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March 28, 2013

Discussing Disabilities

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
State Senator Jim Banks helped initiate Disabilities Awareness Month in Whitley County, hosting a morning coffee and chat with a group of adults with physical and intellectual disabilities on March 1 in Columbia City. 
Above, enjoying a candid discussion about disabilities awareness and ways government might better help meet the needs of those with disabilities are from left, above, Passages director Alice Anderson, David, Nate, Passages board member Tim Hearld, Senator Jim Banks, Passages president Tom O'Neill, Jon and Passages supported living director Mary Hunnicut.
 
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Bill to expand disabled veteran license plate eligibility moves to governor's desk

By Tracy Lytwyn

A bill authored by State Senator Jim Banks to expand eligibility for a disabled Hoosier veteran license plate recently passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 92-2. The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk for signature.
Senate Bill 403 provides that a person may receive a disabled Hoosier veteran license plate if he or she has been rated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as being at least 50-percent disabled with at least a 30-percent mobility disability rating. Currently, veterans must be rated 100-percent disabled to qualify for the license plate.
“This change will ensure more veterans are recognized for their great sacrifice and service to our country,” Banks said. “Right now, many men and women who deserve this acknowledgment don’t receive it due to current license plate standards. Expanding eligibility is one more way Indiana can provide for its veterans.”
Disabled Hoosier veteran license plates allow drivers to park in areas designated for disabled drivers. The plates also qualify drivers for a Hoosier Golden Passport at all Indiana Department of Natural Resource facilities.


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Living Well Church to host Easter Egg Hunt Saturday morning in Columbia City

From reports

The Living Well Church will host an Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30, at 10 a.m. at the church. Age groups will be 3-6 and 7-10 in 2 different areas for simultaneous hunts. Parent must stay on the premises and each child will need to bring their own basket or bag to collect the eggs.
The Living Well Church is located at 204 S. Oak Street in Columbia City.
Any questions, please call 260-503-9217 and ask for Katrina who is coordinating the event.


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Get out and Golf: Eagle Glen opens Friday

From reports

If it isn't really spring until you can get out and golf, you're in luck.
Tomorrow, Friday, March 29, Eagle Glen Golf Course will officially open for the season -- as long as the weather doesn't change drastically.
Play is limited to the cart path only.
For more information and to check available times, call Eagle Glen Golf Course at 248-4653.


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March 27, 2013

Trustee James Yeager: a planner ready to plan Cleveland Township's future


(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Cleveland Township's new trustee James Yeager and his wife, Cheryl, are ready for service to the community -- ready to jump in and make a difference in the community that's been their home.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

When the caucus had ended and James Yeager was declared the new trustee of Cleveland Township, there were many smiles and handshakes awaiting.
Standing near the wall, wearing a plaid shirt and balancing carefully on his crutches, Yeager spoke and shook hands with nearly everyone in attendance. He talked with the fire chief, town councilmen and neighbors, newspaper ladies and county government officials.
Yeager beamed. His wife of many years, Cheryl, sat nearby watching patiently. "Get ready! This is how it will be from now on," a former official told her, knowing how public and engaged the trustee's position will make them going forward. Cheryl Yeager appeared ready and excited.
A lifelong resident of South Whitley, Yeager has lived on Mulberry Street since 1975. A Vietnam War veteran, he's been active with the VFW and the AmVets posts. Yeager has served as vice chair of the South Whitley Plan Commission and a member of the South Whitley Board of Zoning Appeals.
He holds several degrees, including an Associates degree from Ball State and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan. A long career in business and purchasing, costing, invoicing and management, he says he's not a stranger to finance. "I've managed a $2 million budget, I'm not afraid of numbers or how they can be used," he told those in attendance while giving his candidate speech.
Yeager said he plans to retire in a few months, and devote fully to the job of trustee.
"I'm qualified for this position of trust and can give this the attention that it merits," he added while speaking to the assembled constituents.
20 minutes into the trusteeship, he was ready for the work ahead of him.
"I've got to get in there and get my feet wet," he told Talk of the Town. "I want to dive into it."
Yeager knows the work of a trustee varies and can be unexpected, but his nature and career experience will serve him.
"I'm a planner, but I've got to know what to plan," he said, adding that the coming weeks will bring education and careful study. The upside? A few veteran trustees are at the ready and were among the well-wishers waiting to congratulate him.
"Being trustee, I just want to be able to help the new man coming in," said Thorncreek Township trustee Gene Heckman. Heckman has been trustee since 1971 -- minus an eight-year stint on the Whitley County Consolidated School Board.
"I don't have all the answers, but I know where to find them and that's what is important," Heckman added.
Also there and ready to help show him the ropes was Columbia Township trustee Michael Myers. He said he'd be willing to answer questions Yeager might have in the role.
"Anything I can do," he said. "Hopefully I've learned a little bit to pass along."
"I've been in office seven years. Now, I'm beginning to be one of the old ones," he laughed.
Yeager will fulfill the remaining 21 months of the term vacated by resigned trustee Roland King.


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Large caucus crowd, many candidates viewed as a positive showing for concern in local government

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Above, a larger than expected crowd came out to observe the Cleveland Township trustee's caucus Tuesday evening in South Whitley Town Hall. Below, after being declared the victor, James Yeager shakes hands with candidate Christopher Wolfe.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

After two rounds of voting, South Whitley resident James Yeager was elected by a caucus Tuesday evening as Cleveland township's new trustee.
In the first round of voting Yeager had tied with candidates Jorell Tucker and Debra Wilkinson, but when Precinct Committeemen were asked to vote again, Yeager claimed the two votes needed to win.
The night began with a large and unanticipated crowd, converged in the South Whitley Town Council Hall. A scan of those in attendance revealed many familiar faces including township trustees from around Whitley County and other government officials, in addition to many townspeople eager to participate in the process. Though they could not actually cast a ballot in this caucus, they were there to watch and listen.
County GOP Chairman Matt Boyd called the meeting to order, describing the rules for the seven candidates, which also included Charles Sims, Christopher Wolfe, Gary Hicks and Judy Earnhart. Each candidate was given three minutes to talk about themselves, their platform and their plans for the future.
Following the speeches, the three precinct committeemen, which included Laurell Hodges, Jorell Tucker and Deborah Zawlocki, cast their ballots. An tense crowd awaited the results and applauded when Yeager was declared the winner.
As the process ended, Zawlocki stood, addressing the candidates and others in attendance. "This was really, really hard. It was difficult for me to do this," she said of the selection of candidates and that such an important decision was entrusted to just three people.
Understanding this, Boyd made a comment. "I've only been in your shoes a handful of times," he said. Boyd found the large pool of candidates refreshing and encouraging, a good sign of public concern for local government.


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Local churches share Easter service information

The following area churches have provided information regarding their Easter week services:

Columbia City United Methodist Church
All are welcome to attend a free, hands-on, station-based Good Friday experience this Friday, March 29.  Visitors are invited to stay as long as they want, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and are asked to use the lower east doors.  The worship space will be transformed into many different places of prayer and personal reflection.  The stations will be based upon the events of Good Friday.  The centerpiece of the space will be a 7 circuit Chartres prayer labyrinth.  Unlike a maze there is only one way in and one way out.  Mindfully walking a labyrinth is a symbolic journey into to the center of oneself and a return outward in service to the world. 
Contact the church office at 244-7671 for more information. 

The Living Well Church
Please join us Sunday morning for our Easter service at our new service time of 10:45 a.m. or join us at 9:30 a.m. for a light breakfast and Sunday School. The Living Well Church is located at 204 South Oak Street in Columbia City.

Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church will have the following services this week:
Maundy Thursday, a service that remembers of Jesus last supper and commandment to love one another, will be offered at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Good Friday, a service proclaiming Jesus as a triumphant king who reigns from the cross, will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday.
The Easter Morning service begins at 9 a.m. with a breakfast immediately following the service at 10:15 a.m.
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church is located on North Main Street in Columbia City.

Churubusco Area United Methodist Churches
The Churubusco Area United Methodist Churches are jointly presenting a Community Good Friday Service at Collins United Methodist Churcht this Friday, March 29, at 7 p.m. The program is entitled "The Passion & Crucifixion – a Physician’s Perspective.”
Dr. Dave Johnson will offer a presentation on the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ.  He combines scriptural teachings with historical writings, archeological evidence and medical research to enrich our understanding of these eternity changing events.  And hopefully our faith journeys will continue with deepened gratitude for this sacrificial gift from Christ. 
All are invited.  There is no cost.  The offering will be given to the community transient needs fund. 

If you would like to provide any information about your church events for Easter (and beyond) in and around Whitley County, send the information to: jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com

 


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First new officer in a decade, patrolman Stoffel sworn in Tuesday night

(Talk of the Town photos by Tony Romano) Above, Columbia City clerk treasurer Rosie Coyle performs the swearing in ceremony for patrolman Jonathon Stoffel Tuesday evening during the Columbia City Council meeting. Standing at his side are Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh and Captain Tony Hively. Below, Stoffel shakes hands with Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

For the first time in ten years, a new full time police officer has been added to the Columbia City Police Department -- filling the only vacancy on the squad in a decade.
On Tuesday evening, patrolman Jonathon Stoffel was formally sworn in before the Columbia City Common Council and began duty on second shift this afternoon.
Stoffel, 22, is no stranger to law enforcement, coming from a family known in that career field in Huntington County. His father is Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel and was previously Huntington's city police chief.  His late mother, Vicki, worked in the Huntington County Prosecutor's office for many years. His sister, Whitney, is a Huntington City police officer.
Stoffel is a Huntington North High School graduate and graduated last Friday from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy with the distinction of ranking fifth in a class of 117.
"We're really excited to have Jon on board," said Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh. "He's excited and motivated," he added, noting that Stoffel had put himself through academy -- a significant commitment.
"He will be dedicated to Columbia City," Longenbaugh added. Though Stoffel lives in Huntington County currently, Longenbaugh believes he may eventually move here. By law an officer must live in the county they work, or an adjacent one.
"He's a fast learner and he asks a lot of questions," he said.
As part of is continued learning process, Stoffel will begin the field training officer program this week. He will be paired with master patrolmen Trey Insley and Scott Leatherman.
Stoffel's hiring fills a vacancy on the force and brings the total number of full time Columbia City police officers to 18.


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Whitley County ranks 9th in overall health

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
On any given day, you may see residents jogging in local parks, cycling enthusiasts cruising county roads and active memberships are evident at local fitness clubs. Whitley County received a thumbs up in the area of health this week as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute revealed their 4th annual health rankings -- putting Whitley County in 9th place out of Indiana's 92 counties for citizen health. The study took into effect a variety of criteria including obesity, teen birth rate, sexually transmitted diseases, smoking, education levels and more. The study reveals a trend toward improved health in the community -- with Whitley County moving up from 15th place in 2012.
Above, a man rides his bicycle Wednesday morning along SR 5 in South Whitley, an enjoyable and healthy way to take care of his errands.
Click here to read the study results.


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Hiring process reveals three new city police reserves to be sworn in next month

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The Columbia City police force will grow by as many as four in the coming weeks -- the first of which is full time officer Jonathon Stoffel, who was sworn in last night and began duty on second shift today.
According to Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh, the process to hire Stoffel was lengthy, but brought forth a great pool of candidates. Of those candidates, the force gained three new reserve officers -- each having been considered top contenders for the full time position.
The new reserve officers, which will serve as volunteer support officers, include Tony Kumfer, Jeremy Brice and Heath Fearnow. The three are now completing mandatory training that must be completed before they begin duty.
Training includes 40 hours of course work and then field training.
"Eventually they'll get patrol time and ride along with full time officers," Longenbaugh said, but added it will be awhile.
The benefit to having an expanded reserve force is the ability to have more available, trained manpower for events and to support the work of the full time officers.
While the reserve officer positions are unpaid, they are great volunteer opportunities in law enforcement.
"It's a good way to get a foot in the door and build a resume," Longenbaugh added.
If future positions would open on the force, the reserve officers, once fully trained, would be prime for consideration -- needing to complete a 16-week training at the Indiana Police Academy.
The three new reserve officers are expected to be sworn in before the Columbia City Council in two weeks. The three new reserve officers brings the department's total number of reserves to six.
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March 26, 2013

Local photographer Missy DeWitt's work featured throughout boutique company's website

(Talk of the Town photos by Melissa DeWitt Photography) Modeling Art & Soul by Bercot's spring line of boutique clothing is, from left, Brittney Brown, Katie Jackemeyer-Street and Monica Gilraine. The photo was taken at the storefront of The Watering Can Florist on the Square in downtown Columbia City. Below, model Tarah Hess displays an Art & Soul by Bercot dress not far from Columbia City Hall and The Clugston on the Square, just one of many things you might notice when visiting the company's boutique clothing website.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

If you're a fan of boutique women and children's clothing, then you're probably familiar with the Fort Wayne brand Art & Soul by Bercot.
A visit to the boutique company's online gallery might reveal even more familiarity: people you know, scenery you've seen before and a photographic style honed by Whitley County artist Melissa "Missy" DeWitt.
DeWitt, an Old Lake resident, has been professional photographer for several years -- especially well known for her tender images of carefully folded newborn babies and creative, captivating wedding photography. What you might not know, however, is that DeWitt has done a fair bit of commercial photography as well. Specifically, DeWitt one of the main photographers for Bercot's clothing line.
"I have photographed many beautiful pieces for almost every release the past year or so," DeWitt said. "Each photo shoot is a different and exciting experience based upon the theme of the line. It allows me to break out my creative side and incorporate my style with Art and Soul."
DeWitt selects the models for her shoots, often selecting local residents and budding area models to showcase the one-of-a-kind clothing. A recent shoot for the spring line's release featured area residents Brittney Brown, Katie Jackemeyer-Street and Monica Gilraine. Peppered throughout the site are other familiar faces, including DeWitt and her children. A closer look at the photography of the line reveals something else you might recognize: several of the photographs were taken in downtown Columbia City, one of which was taken right in front of The Watering Can Florist on the Square.
Art & Soul by Bercot is designed and manufactured in Fort Wayne by Kristine Bercot. Most well known for her children's wear for girls ages 12 months to 10 years old, she has been designing artful clothing for 22 years.
See what you find familiar at www.ArtandSoulBoutique.com or visit Melissa DeWitt Photography's website at www.melissadewittphotography.com


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Ball State University Singers aiding ISMS choir with fundraising show Wednesday night

From reports

Forget "Idol" and "The Voice"...the real talent will be in Whitley County Wednesday night.
The Ball State University Singers perform in concert at Indian Springs Middle School this Wednesday, March 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is a freewill donation.
The full group will sing with the Indian Springs Middle School choir and then perform their internationally recognized ensemble with songs that won them top awards in competitions in the United States and when they represented the USA in China last year.
All proceeds from donations will benefit the middle school program.


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Update: Sniff is back home near Goose Lake

(Talk of the Town photo provided)

Great news! Sniff, the missing 13-year-old dog from near Goose Lake featured last night on Talk of the Town, was found in Larwill and reunited with his family a short while ago.
At right, Sniff receives a warm hug from his very relieved owner, Dalton Van Houten. We're pretty sure we see a big smile on Sniff's face too!


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Seven candidates pursue Cleveland Township trustee's office at tonight's caucus

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The deadlines have come to pass, the letters have been sent and it's possible there could be quite a crowd assembled tonight for the Cleveland Township trustee caucus race.
In all, seven Cleveland Township residents have declared candidacy, including: Judith Earnhart, James Yeager, Gary Hicks, Jorell Tucker, Charles Sims, Debra Wilkinson and Christopher Wolf.
The caucus will be held at South Whitley's Town Hall this evening, Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. the public is invited to attend and observe, but the voting will be conducted with the three precinct committee members via secret ballot. Precinct committee members include Jorell Tucker, Debra Zawlocki and Laurell Hodges. If the voting would come to a tie, the decision may be made by Whitley County GOP chairman Matt Boyd.


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Simple items mean a lot to the Humane Society of Whitley County

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Sometimes, the small things we do can make a big impact in the community.
Next time you're grocery shopping, pick up an extra item and donate it to the Whitley County Humane Shelter. It might seem like a minor purchase to you, but it means a lot to the Humane Society of Whitley County.
The shelter is always in need of bleach, Drano, cat littler, toilet paper, trash bags (13 gallon and 30 gallon), high efficiency laundry detergent, Glade or Airwick oil refills, canned dog food and paper towels.
Bring your items to the Humane Society of Whitley County's shelter at 951 South Line Street in Columbia City. Shelter hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 12 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For additional information about ways you might help the Humane Society of Whitley County, call 244-6664 or visit their website at www.hswc.org


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Weigold commits to Manchester University, will play Spartan football in the autumn

From reports

With more good news coming out of the Columbia City High School football program, coach Randy Hudgins announced this morning that three-year letterman Kyle Weigold has committed to attend Manchester University in the fall.
Hudgins said Weigold, an offensive tackle, will continue his football career at the college level, playing for coach Shannon Griffith's Spartans.
"Kyle has been a mainstay on our offensive line since his sophomore year who displays an incredible love of the game and caring for his teammates," Hudgins stated.
Weigold plans to study education.


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CCHS' Adam Neely plans to study at University of St. Francis, hopes to play ball there

From reports

On Monday, Columbia City High School's Adam Neely made it official -- he plans to enroll at the University of St. Francis next fall where he plans to study business.
Neely played running back and punter for the Columbia City High School football team, but is a versatile athlete that could fulfill a variety of roles for the Cougars next fall, according to his CCHS football coach, Randy Hudgins.
"St. Francis is getting a great young man with a passion for life and the game of football," Hudgins stated. "His warrior spirit in coming back from a seemingly season-ending injury lifted up the entire team as he carried us to a victory in the sectionals last October."
Neely's commitment is the second major announcement from the CCHS team's senior class. Jared Murphy signed his national letter of intent in February to play for Miami University in Oxford.


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Banks' bills return to Senate for final review

By Tracy Lytwyn

Two bills by State Senator Jim Banks to make higher education more affordable for Hoosiers passed the House of Representatives today.This session, Banks introduced several bills intended to make Indiana’s higher education system more efficient and accountable. His legislation approved today includes:

· Senate Bill 182 – Requires the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and state colleges to develop policies that expand college credit transferability. This includes allowing students who earn a two-year associate degree to transfer their credits to a related four-year bachelor’s degree program and enter at the same status as a junior.

· Senate Bill 406– Establishes a streamlined program for administering college-level classes to high school students for dual credit.

“The path to a college degree has been obstructed by financial constraints and administrative red tape for too long,” Banks said. “We often see bright students kept from pursuing higher education due to limitations created by an out-of-control system. That isn’t right. The legislation approved today will allow students to earn their degrees in a quicker and more cost-efficient manner.”

Both bills now return to the Senate for final legislative review.


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Whitko victorious at second annual Andreas Memorial Strength Meet

Weighing just 147 pounds, Whitko's David Boggs registers 385 squat, 225 bench 

By Randy Hudgins

The second annual Tyler Andreas Memorial Strength Meet, sponsored by Big G’s and Downtown on the Square Restaurant, was held Saturday March 16 at Little Turtle Elementary School in Columbia City.
The event involved football players from Churubusco, Columbia City and Whitko competing in the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Agility Test. In all, 39 athletes took part in the event, which celebrates the dedication and warrior spirit of Tyler Andreas, while raising money for the scholarship named in his honor.
Whitko High School emerged as the team champion with the highest overall average per contestant. Churubusco finished a close second and Columbia City third. The contest and team averages were figured using the same calculation as USA Weightlifting events, which seeks to find the best overall lifter according to pounds lifted and bodyweight.
The top overall lifting score at the meet was achieved by Whitko’s David Boggs who registered a 385 on Squat and a 225 on Bench at a bodyweight of 147 pounds. Second Place overall went to Churubusco’s Brient Hicks who registered a Squat of 465 and bench of 255 at a bodyweight of 217 pounds. Third Place overall went to Columbia City Sophomore Braden Myer who registered a 435 on squat and a bench of 300 at a bodyweight of 242 pounds.
In the individual events, the top three finishers on Squat included: David Boggs of Whitko, Brient Hicks of Churubusco and Jordan Howell of Churubusco. The top three finishers on Bench included: David Boggs of Whitko, Braden Myer of Columbia City, and Devin Gerding of Whitko. The top three finishers in the Three Cone Agility Test were: Logan Harris of Churubusco, Devin Gerding of Whitko and Dakoda Labenz of Churubusco.
Proceeds from the annual meet support the Tyler Andreas Memorial Scholarship at the Whitley County Community Foundation.


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March 25, 2013

Final snow of the season?

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
A small metal Eiffel Tower was nearly covered in snow, measuring the amount of snowfall overnight. Far left, last night before the snow began. At center, this morning while the snow continued to fall and at right, this evening as the snow melted once again.
According to the National Weather Service of Northeast Indiana's Whitley County weather monitor Mike Cook, exactly 4.5 inches fell during this recent storm and amount that might have varied slightly by location.
On Sunday, we asked the Talk of the Town Facebook fans how much snow they thought would fall during the storm. There were a couple of fairly close guesses on overnight snowfall totals -- and they've won a small popcorn (flavor of their choice) from Kernel Coladas Gourmet Popcorn. Winners include Lisa Haza, Margaret Auer Taylor, Jacqueline Balfour and Lisa Smith-Thurmond.


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Columbia City Police Department awards medals, letters of commendation in afternoon ceremony Monday

(Talk of the Town photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano) A large group of Columbia City police officers, joined by their family members, supporters and several city officials, participated in a recognition ceremony today in city hall. Above, Captain Tony Hively talks to those in attendance about the important work officers completed in the past year.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The Columbia City Police Department, this afternoon, recognized several of the force's officers with awards for outstanding service in the line of duty over the past year. The awards ceremony is held annual and today's awards were presented by Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh and Captain Tony Hively.

Above, master patrolman Shad Hunter was recognized with a lifesaving medal for his role in saving the life of a woman who was found hanging in February. Hunter arrived at the scene and found the woman quickly, and assisted in her rescue. Hunter, at far left, was also the recipient of an official letter of commendation for his proactive initiative to deter bank robberies in Columbia City. Hunter has spent time in recent weeks meeting with local banks and helping bank staff review ways to reduce the likelihood they may be robbed.

Master patrolman Tim Pittenger was awarded a patrolman's medal for his role in removing an illegally held, stolen handgun from a group of juveniles. Pittenger and his K9 officer, Stryker, were also recognized with a letter of commendation for apprehending individuals involved in several thefts from cars and buildings at Eagle Glen.

Master patrolman Michael Petersen, above at left, was presented with a patrolman's medal for his role in a recent traffic stop involving an intoxicated individual that resulted in removing an illegally possessed handgun.

Master patrolman Scott Leatherman, above at left, was awarded a patrolman's medal for securing 159 bundles of KHAT, an illegal hallucinogenic drug, while performing a traffic stop on US 30.

Master patrolman Gary Parrett was awarded a letter of commendation for his role in discovering a percursor to a meth lab.

Master patrolman Thor Hodges was presented with a letter of commendation for apprehending several juveniles involved in a series of breaking and entering incidents on Camden Drive.

Master patrolman Jeff Chapman was awarded a letter of commendation for his efforts in providing public relation service to the community. Chapman found a lost child at the Whitley County Fall Festival, a child with a great fear of police officers, and managed to alleviate the child's fears and reunited the child with it's parents.

From left above, CCPD award recipients included Scott Leatherman, Tim Pittenger, Gary Parrett, Jeff Chapman, Michael Petersen, Shad Hunter and Thor Hodges.


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Whitley on the Move forms official board of directors

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

In an important step of the process to move South Whitley into the future, the Whitley on the Move organization has formed a board of directors.
The board includes the following regular members: Bill Boggs, Darci Kessie, Judy Earnhart, Lori Starkey, Mark Mynhier, Mike Krause, Randy Holler, Renee Wozniak Anderson, Teresa Smith, Terry Eberly, Clayton Bills and Wendy Lude.
Other representational members include: Doug Brown of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce, Tony Starkey of the South Whitley Town Council, Stephen Smith of the South Whitley Town Council and Lori Shipman of the Whitley County EDC.
The group's next board meeting is April 10 at 7 p.m. in South Whitley Town Hall.


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Help find Sniff

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
A northern Whitley County family is heartbroken today and needs your help finding their beloved pet, Sniff. Sniff is over 13 years-old and cannot see or hear well. He managed to get out of the fence at his home sometime last evening and likely cannot find his way back home. Sniff lives in the Goose Lake and northern Etna Troy area.
If you've seen him, please help reunite Sniff with his family by calling (260) 609-0773.


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Union Sodbusters 4-H Club begins 2013 meetings

By Patrick Loeffler

The Union Sodbusters 4-H Club opened their 2013 meetings on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church in Coesse with 17 members in attendance.   4-H leader, Jayne Oliver, expressed the need for volunteers at the upcoming 4-H Fun Night which was held March 15.  Other club deadlines were also discussed, including the April 1 enrollment form deadline.
Elections were held for officers with results as follows:
President - Jared Lamle
Vice President - Brooke Pettigrew   
Secretary – Courtney Wait
Treasurer – Taelor Maley
Health and Safety – Justin Johnson & Hunter Heron
Devotions – Danielle Oliver
Reporters - Patrick, Tim & Veronica Loeffler
Members discussed ideas for the fair theme contest.
Annette Lamle, Union Township 4-H Council member, explained the new Blue Ribbon barn award for the cleanest and friendliest barn. The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m. 
Following the meeting, refreshments were provided by Jared Lamle and Danielle Oliver. 
The next meeting of the Union Sodbusters will be held on March 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Church.


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323 Media's ads featured in current national advertising campaign

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) David Schmoekel and Nick Henney of 323 Media, below, created two commercials for 5-Hour Energy that are currently being aired on television across the United States. 

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Whitley County-based business 323 Media has some exciting projects in the works right now.
According to business owners and creative masters Nick Henney and David Schmoekel, two of the company's commercials are currently airing as part of a national advertising campaign for their client, 5-Hour Energy. The spots feature parents navigating a busy day with the help of an extra energy boost from the dietary supplement.
323 Media creates television commercials for a variety of clients and operates from their headquarters in Columbia City.


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Whitley County Patriots plan meeting for April 2

From reports

The Whitley County Patriots will host their next meeting on Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 506 N. Main Street in Columbia City. 
This meeting will be an opportunity for participants to learn all the ways of contacting local, state and federal legislators.  Several "hot button" issues will be discussed in round table format.  By the end of the meeting we will have produced letters ready to be mailed or faxed, Facebook or Twitter messages to send, a submission local media or a clear-cut advertising campaign.
The Whitley County Patriot meetings are open to the community. Attendees are asked to bring canned food items for local food banks. 


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Severe Weather Preparedness week now underway, helpful links listed below

By Dan Dahms 
Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed March 24 through 30, 2013 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.
The National Weather Service, in conjunction with the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Broadcasters Association, the American Red Cross, and Amateur Radio Operators will conduct a statewide test of communication systems on Wednesday, March 27 between 10:00 AM and 10:30 AM EDT likely around 10:15 AM and between 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM EDT likely around 7:35 PM.
The City of Columbia City Communications Department http://www.columbiacity.net/dispatch.html and the Whitley County Siren Test Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WCARG/ (volunteer local amateur radio operators) will participate in these tests and monitor the city sirens on that day. The Columbia City Communications Department and the Whitley County Siren Test Group normally tests the City sirens on the first and third Monday of every month, weather conditions permitting and if it is not a major holiday. The Columbia City Communications Department has had six warning sirens in place and with the help of the Siren Test Group has regularly tested and monitored the warning sirens for about twenty years.
Important - while the drill will be sent using live TOR EAS coding (Tornado Warning), it is only a test, and will be postponed to Thursday, March 28 if weather conditions warrant.
The goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to better educate people about the hazards of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and to help everyone be prepared when severe weather occurs. Each day will focus on a different topic:
  • Sunday: Kick-Off: Discuss Partners' roles in Severe Weather
  • Monday: Severe Weather Outlook: Partners' roles at the Outlook stage of an event
  • Tuesday: Watch: Partners' roles in the Watch stage of an event
  • Wednesday: Everyone's roles in Warnings: Taking action when Warnings are issued
  • Thursday: Response: Partners' roles in responding to disasters (real-time response)
  • Friday: Recovery: Partners' roles in the recovery process (days/weeks/months after disaster)
  • Saturday: Wrap-Up: Importance of preparedness and action during threatening hazards
Please read our Preparedness Week brochure (2.3MB pdf) for details. Click here (6.4MB pdf) for a kids' activity booklet from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
For more information about a warning enhancement experiment that NWS Indianapolis will be participating in beginning April 1st, see the Impact Based Warning page.
What should you do at each step as severe weather threatens - outlook (hours to days in advance), watch (minutes to hours in advance), warning (event is threatening now). Think READY (outlook), SET (watch), GO (warning)!
severe weather prep graphic - click for pdf
Severe Weather Prepareness (click image for pdf)

We also recently passed National Flood Safety Awareness Week. Click the "Turn Around, Don't Drown!" barriers below to learn more.
Turn Around, Don't Drown!Turn Around, Don't Drown!Turn Around, Don't Drown!Turn Around, Don't Drown!

As part of NWS efforts to build a Weather Ready Nation with our partners and the public, severe weather preparedness efforts have also gone national in recent years. Click the image below for the National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Toolkit.
Be a Force of Nature

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March 24, 2013

Send us your Good Friday and Easter service information and we will post it here

If your church has Good Friday or Easter service information you'd like to share, please email it this week to: jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com and we will include it in our updates this week.
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INDOT prepares for possible snow storm tonight

By Mary Foster

A winter-weather storm is expected to drop significant snow accumulation across the state today and tonight, Sunday and Monday, March 24 and 25. The National Weather Service has declared winter storm warnings or watches for most of Indiana, with the heaviest snowfall predicted across Central Indiana.
INDOT continues to monitor multiple developing forecasts, as well as its statewide network of road and bridge pavement sensors, to deploy the needed personnel, equipment and materials ahead of the predicted accumulation.  There currently is a lull in the storm, but weather models indicate the next wave will begin mid-afternoon in West Central Indiana. After pushing east, INDOT expects moisture to lift to the north and enter the Northwest corner of the state by early evening.  Snow should reach Northeast Indiana by 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
INDOT Fort Wayne District has all trucks fueled, plows attached and ready to deploy ahead of predicted snow accumulation.  Crews will work 12-hour shifts throughout the storm until weather conditions subside.  INDOT’s top seasonal priority is to plow and treat its more than 30,000 lane miles of interstates, U.S. highways and state routes.
Motorists are advised to take extra caution, as weather conditions could make for difficult driving. Allow extra time to reach your destinations safely and adjust driving according to the conditions. Slow down, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, brake early and accelerate slowly.
As the storm moves across the state, motorists may find themselves sharing the roadway with INDOT plows. INDOT asks drivers to give snowplows room to operate. Don’t tailgate or try to pass, as the roadway will be clearer behind the snowplow than in front of it.
Motorists are encouraged to keep an eye on evolving weather forecasts and know the conditions before leaving.  Plan ahead by visiting www.trafficwise.in.gov or dialing toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes and other traffic alerts. 
For social media updates during winter weather, visit www.Twitter.com/INDOTNortheast and www.Facebook.com/INDOTNortheast.


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March 22, 2013

Talk of hens tabled, Larwill Town Council pursues more information for potential poultry decision

(Talk of the Town photos by Debi Dewitt) Larwill Town Council convened last Tuesday evening with Clerk treasurer Renee Sills, town lawyer Greg Hockemeyer, council president Rich Hobbs, council members Lore Wolf and Mike Garwood. Below, a crowd is present to speak their minds on the subject of chickens in the town.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

When it came to making a finite decision on whether small flocks of poultry would be allowed in Larwill, the town council was a little chicken -- at least not without spending more time reviewing potential ordinances and metering public input.
Last Thursday, the board convened, having requested that residents with an interest in the issue appear in person to discuss it.
Recently, the issue was brought to the council as several residents wondered whether they might be allowed to keep small flocks of 3-6 hens within city limits.
"I'm not going to argue about it I just don't like chickens," said councilman Rick Hobbs.
Councilwoman Lore Wolfe was on the other side of the fence.
"If you keep it small and you keep up with the waste and you keep up with it... Rabbits are worse, dogs are worse," Wolfe said. "It's great fertilizer."
Wolfe also added that considering the small numbers of birds, they weren't likely to create a public health concern -- in fact, in the interest of health, chickens weren't a bad idea. "Six hens is not very many. It's fun to have eggs. You know what's going in to them," she said, referring to a grower's ability to determine what feed is given to their animals, thereby ensuring healthy eggs.
Wolfe also reminded those present that roosters were not part of the equation and they wouldn't be needed to produce eggs.
"No roosters. No crowing at the crack of dawn," she added.
Several individuals voiced concerns about whether chickens would draw vermin, such as mice and rats, into the community. Another resident wondered if they might also draw coyotes.
Another concern: who would police the chickens? Who would make sure the ordinance was enforced and that residents' flocks didn't grow too large or that available space for the flocks was within guidelines.
Clerk treasurer Renee Sills volunteered to be the person to police it, saying, "I'm already the cat lady...I might as well be the chicken lady too."
Sills read portions of a possible ordinance for council consideration that was very specific on the subject -- delineating distances from dwellings and property lines and requiring at least 2 square foot of space per chicken.
Council attorney Greg Hockemeyer said he suggested the council review and consider the language in a variety of ordinances, enabling them to find a comfortable solution for the Larwill community. Community input from those in the room for the meeting seemed to encompass a variety of opinions, both for and against the idea.
The council chose to continue looking at ordinances before making a decision on the matter, tabling discussion until their next meeting.
In other matters, May 18 is being set as the townwide cleanup day in Larwill. Council members discussed plans to pick up large appliances and to urge residents to deliver unwanted electronics and other items to the Whitley County Solid Waste office. More details will be available soon.
Council agreed to continue sponsorship of the Whitko Pony League.
"We're trying to give the kids that want to play an option to play here," Hobbs said of the ongoing work to keep the community's ball diamond in nice shape for spring and summer play. Additionally, the council talked about the idea of constructing a basketball court somewhere in town, but an exact location was not determined.
It was clarified that the funds to sponsor the league comes from interest generated on town accounts -- not from tax dollars directly. In all, $445 has been generated in interest on town accounts this year.
A recent snowstorm exemplified the great neighborly spirit of those in Larwill, as residents and the town worked together to clear the snow from streets and driveways.
A resident told the council she was very pleased for the extra help from the town in clearing snow from her driveway. The town helped remove snow from some residents' driveways as long as the residents were home to give permission.
"This probably isn't going to happen every time we have snowfall," Hobbs said of the extra help, but said it was the right thing to do this time.
In all, $550 has been spent on salaries for snowfall removal this year, $523 on salt -- all 4600 pounds of salt used this year.
"We will need to use a different material next year," said council member Mike Garwood. "We may spend a little more money, but I think everybody that lives in town will be happy."
Hockemeyer updated the library briefly on talks in the community about townships that support the local libraries and those that do not. Taxpayers living in townships that opted out of supporting libraries years ago are not permitted to use the libraries for free, an issue that often comes as a surprise to people unaware of the situation. In Whitley County, there are several townships that do not provide tax support to the libraries -- and therefore, their residents are unable to utilize the services of the library -- something that doesn't sit well with many hopeful library patrons.
Some citizens would like to see the township support of libraries revisited so that all townships would support libraries and all residents would be able to use them freely.
Hockemeyer said that in some cases, it might be more economical for resident living in non-supportive townships to purchase library cards. Library cards can be purchased, he thought, for about $100 which might be less than the amount it would cost in tax dollars if a township became a library supporter.
Whitley County EDC president Alan Tio discussed the recent announcement regarding 80/20's expansion, as well as an overview of his economic development work in the county, including the addition of more than 200 jobs in the county. He said he deals with approximately 40 companies per year on average.


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Whitley on the Move gains momentum

 

(Talk of the Town photos by Randy Holler)
Whitley on the Move continues to make things move in South Whitley as residents continue a spirited effort to revitalize their community. Above, a group of volunteers exit a recent planning meeting. At right, South Whitley Town Council member and Whitley on the Move volunteer Tony Starkey talks with a fellow committee member about the exciting projects in the works.
Last Friday, representatives of Whitley on the Move met with representatives from Indiana Main Street to discuss ways the group might find advantages in becoming an Indiana Main Street-designated town. The designation would enable the community to qualify for assistance and for grants to beautify and rejuvenate the downtown area.
Volunteers from inside and outside the South Whitley community are encouraged to actively seek a role and get involved in Whitley on the Move.
Upcoming meetings include:
Economic Development Committee - March 25 at 7 p.m. in town hall
Arts & Promotion Committee - April 4 at 6:30 at the South Whitley Public Library
Design Committee - April 8 at 7 p.m. in town hall
Whitley on the Move Board Meeting - April 10 at 7 p.m. in town hall

You can also follow the progress of Whitley on the Move by becoming a fan of the group's Facebook page.


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Get a photo with the Easter Bunny Saturday afternoon in downtown Columbia City

From reports

Minear Real Estate will host thier annual Easter Bunny Visit this Saturday, March 23, 2013. Stop by their office at 205 West Van Buren Street in downtown Columbia City from 1 to 3 p.m. to have a photograph taken with the Easter Bunny. They will also be offering light refreshments and face painting.
For additional information, contact  Minear Real Estate at 244-0009.


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Shriners hosting annual Swiss Steak Supper Saturday night at horse grounds on SR 9

From reports

The Whitley County Mizpah Shrine club will be hosting their annual Swiss Steak Supper this Saturday, March 23, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mizpah Shrine's horse grounds, just north of Columbia City on SR 9.
Meals, which include Swiss Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, drinks and homemade desserts, are $8 for adults and $5 for children.


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March 21, 2013

Whitley County Sheriff's Department phone lines back in service

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department phone systems are operational once again.
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Whitley County Sheriff's Department experiencing phone problems this evening

Tonight (March 21, 2013) the Whitley County Sheriff's Department is experiencing phone problems. You can still call 244-6410, but please wait 6-7 rings. Another option is to call 625-4523 to reach dispatch.
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UPDATE: Leroy has been found!

About 30 minutes after we posted this notice, we received word from Leroy's owner several minutes ago that he has been found and he is doing well. Thank you all for your assistance in helping unite another lost dog with his family.

 


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Whitley County Dazzlers at Nationals


A video tribute to the Whitley County Dazzlers that will bring a smile to your face. Congratulations on your national win Dazzlers and volunteers!
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Four with Whitley County connections honored with 40 Under 40 awards

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Four of the Fort Wayne Business Weekly's 40 Under 40 Award recipients have Whitley County connections. The regional awards are presented annually to 40 adults under age 40 who are doing great things in the region. Winners were selected by a panel of judges based on their career achievements and community involvement. Whitley County's honorees included Churubusco native Grant Daily of Lake City Bank, Churubuso native and Columbia City business owner Lindsey Hively of Kernel Coladas Gourmet Popcorn, Columbia City resident Tony Romano of Zimmer and Columbia City native Justin Clupper of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.
Above, from left, shortly after receiving their awards are Grant Daily, Lindsey Hively and Tony Romano. Justin Clupper is now shown.


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Changes made to Columbia City Parks' girls softball evaluation date, times

From reports

Due to the coming weather the Columbia City Parks Department's girls softball evaluation date and times have been changed.
The evaluations will be held on Sunday, March 24, 2013. Minor league is 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., major league is 3 to 4:30 p.m. and move-ups will be at 4:30 p.m.
If you have any questions, please contact the park office 248-5180.


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Five complete training, join Churubusco-Smith Township Volunteer Fire Department

From reports

The Churubusco-Smith Township Volunteer Fire Department welcomed five new members to services this week.
Following six months of extensive training, Tammy Kreager, Zach Adams, Roy Sabatino, Matt Walker and Jaron Freel are now members of the department.


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Major regional children's consignment sale planned for Saturday in Winona Lake

By Allison McSherry

Kids Market Inc, a non-profit organization with 501c3 status, will be holding their semi-annual event on March 23, 2013, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rodeheaver Auditorium in Winona Lake. A 50% off sale begins at 3 p.m. and continues until the end of the sale.
Kids Market, Inc. exists to help the women and children in the area by holding two consignment sales each year - one in March and another in September. Families bring their gently-used maternity and children’s items, and volunteers organize the items and hold a consignment sale. The sale begins on Thursday with set-up and collecting items and concludes on Sunday with the pick-up of unsold or donated items.  It’s a busy weekend, but it’s so worth it. The organization is humbled by how many people are touched by this little sale. Every year stories are shared about how Kids Market has impacted many lives.
Kids Market’s favorite time comes after the sale: when the families the organization has adopted come and get clothing for free; when the organizations come to collect their boxes of donated items; when stories are shared about how this sale has helped the women and children that live in the community; and when the organization meets with local non-profits to make financial donations to their organizations.
Kids Market has found organizations locally that align perfectly with their mission, and the organization is thankful for the work these people are doing to impact the lives of families in Kosciusko County. The average number of items sold in our spring sales is 20,900 with 332 sellers. After the bills are paid and budgeted for our next sale, the money left over is given away. In 2011 Kids Market was honored to donate over $25,000 to non-profits in Kosciusko County. After the September 2012 sale Kids Market donated $13,000 to the following charities: Fellowship Mission Homeless Shelter, CCS Project Independence, Heartline and BABE, Baker Youth Club, Beaman Home, Lakeland Youth Center, North Webster Community Center, Teen Parents Succeeding, and six area food pantries.  Since the first sale in the fall of 2001, Kids Market has donated over $110,000 to local organizations. 
The following booths will be present at this sale: Bubblegum Crochet, Thirty-One gifts, Shaklee, Music for Life, Lake City Music Together, Cute as a Button Boutique, Plume Crazy, Simply Folded Roses, Aspire Dance Academy.
If you are interested in becoming a consignor for the upcoming sale or want more information about Kids Market, please visit their website at http://kidsmarketinc.com or on Facebook.


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Whitley County Community Foundation seeks worthwhile projects to fund during spring grant cycle

Article provided

The Whitley County Community Foundation’s grant review session is approaching.  The Foundation funds charitable projects that will make a positive impact on Whitley County and its people.  The Foundation is particularly interested in ideas that shed new light on local needs and provide innovative, long-term solutions.  Categories include: Arts and Culture, Health, Civic Affairs, Recreation, Community Development, Welfare and Education.
Requests for funding are reviewed by the Foundation’s grants committee, composed of residents from communities throughout the county.  Their recommendations are forwarded to the Foundation's Board of Directors, with whom all grant-making authority resides.
The deadline for submitting an application is May 1, 2013, and grant seekers are encouraged to call the Foundation to discuss a grant proposal before submitting a formal application.
If you would like an application or have questions call John Slavich, Program Officer, at 244-5224.  You may also download an application from the Foundation’s website which is www.whitleycountycommunityfoundation.org.   


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Banks' bill to reduce veteran collge costs gets House nod, heads back to Senate for final approval

By Tracy Lytwyn

A bill authored by State Senator Jim Banks of Columbia City, meant to reduce veterans’ college costs, passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 93-0. State Representative Jim Baird of Greencastle is the bill's sponsor.
Senate Bill 177 grants in-state tuition eligibility to honorably discharged veterans who enroll in one of Indiana’s state college or universities. Currently, veterans serving in a different state or country can lose their in-state tuition eligibility upon returning home. Under Banks’ bill, applicants would qualify regardless of whether they are from Indiana or have lived here long enough to meet the school’s residency requirements.
“Our veterans make great sacrifices to keep our country safe, and it’s our duty to support them both during their service and after they return home,” Banks said. “My hope is that offering lower in-state tuition rates to returning soldiers will open more opportunities for them to earn college degrees after their service. Not only would this allow Hoosier veterans to further their education if they want, but it could also attract hardworking veterans from other states to our workforce.”
Eligible veterans would be required to enroll in a state college or university no later than 12 months after their discharge or separation from the armed forces. They would then have to take steps to establish Indiana residency within 12 months of enrollment.
SB 177 now returns to the Senate for final legislative review.


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Celebrate a different kind of 'madness' this weekend at Northern Heights

(Talk of the Town photos provided)
Garrett Geiger, a fourth grader at Northern Heights Elementary School, displays some of the great offerings at the school's March Madness carnival this Saturday, March 23, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the school. Some of the great prizes include an iPod, iPad and Disney World tickets.   Other raffle items include gift certificates to local eating establishments, area attractions, jewelry, an American Girl doll and much more!

The Northern Heights Elementary Parents in Education group will be hosting their annual school carnival complete with games, prize store, concessions, cake walk, raffle and silent auction.  The event is open to the public.


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March 20, 2013

Council hears concerns of chronically ill man's family, dicusses funding for final leg of sewer project

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
South Whitley resident Blanche Killander, standing above, appeared before the South Whitley Town Council with a petition urging the council to check a South Whitley company's air emissions permits and determine if they are in compliance. Seated, from left, are Dave Wilkinson, Dennis Eberhart, Bill Boggs, Stephen Smith and council president Tony Starkey.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

A tearful woman with a chronically ill husband appeared before the South Whitley Town Council Tuesday, March 12, asking for their help.
Blanche Killander spoke of her 66-year-old husband's illness, inability to breathe or move freely -- an issue her husband's physician at the VA hospital attributes to a fungus in his chest caused by airborn material -- specifically, she said, the dust associated with the Ag Plus plant located next to their home.
Killander produced a package she said contained signatures of other residents requesting that the town review the company's permits and determine if they are in compliance.
"He is a vegetable. He can't do anything for himself...I do everything for him," Killander told the council. She said his doctor advised the couple to move -- something she didn't accept as a practical solution.
Killander said the corn dust was not as bad before storage bins were used at the facility.
Council president Tony Starkey and council attorney Dawn Boyd said they would look into the matter further and determine which state or federal agencies oversee the business and whether the level of airborne matter is within acceptable limits.
Killander appeared appreciative of their willingness to review her concerns, even though it may not truly fall into their area of responsibility, but said she planned to take the issue as far as she needed to in order to get action on her husband's behalf.
In other council matters, city clerk treasurer Bob Gould said State Auditor Tim Berry's office had been busy reviewing the town's records and business affairs, specifically all transactions between 2011 and 2012, and Gould's work since taking over the office had been commended.
The review is a three week process and through February, everything is now reviewed and up to date.
"It's all good going forward," Gould told council.
Boyd reported that she had been researching whether funds held in town accounts could be used as collateral to secure a low interest loan to fund the final leg of the town's sewer project. After discussion, however, council members appeared to be in agreement that if funds were available in town coffers, it would be better to use then versus seek a loan.
"It sounds like more trouble than it is worth," said council member Stephen Smith. "If that money is available (in town accounts), I think we're spinning our wheels here."
A portion of the funds, approximately $80,000 to $100,000, would be needed immediately to have a contractor begin crushing material as needed for the riverbank stabilization in the final phase of the sewer project, stated sewer project manager Dave Harvey.
A tight deadline on the project has the council in a corner. When a pipeline  connecting the town's sewer system to the sewer facility along the south bank of the river revealed a weak and rapidly eroding riverbank, the town was forced to react quickly with an extensive and costly riverbank stabilization project. A permit was issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, but is has a strict deadline for the whole project to be completed by April 1, 2013, so that wildlife migration patterns are not disrupted. Work on the bank cannot begin physically until after a public notice and environmental assessment on March 22.
Unfortunately, the council knows they need to come up with the money quickly and they were looking at options at the meeting. Council approved moving forward to allow contractors to begin prepping the stone for the riverbank stabilization not to exceed $100,000.
"One way or another, we will be sure the money is there," said councilman Bill Boggs.
Town manager Dave Wilkinson requested approval of an amount not to exceed $19,000 to pay for the clearing to trees and scrub to make way for the stabilization work to proceed. Council approved the expenditure.
Additionally, Harvey requested an additional $14,200 for engineering services related to the riverbank stabilization -- which was also approved.
The entire stabilization project is expected to take 5 weeks, commencing immediately. A year after the project is completed, a permitting process requires post-project monitoring by a contracted company. Starkey was reluctant to contract the same company, Gerig Ottenweller, to do the final phase, estimated at $3400, without seeing the project first completed. Boggs and Smith felt comfortable moving forward with securing the firm for that portion of the project and the move was approved.
Utilities director Dennis Eberhart requested that council approved a measure, in compliance with state ordinances, allowing for sewer inspections conducted by the town. Specifically, the ordinance prohibits the cross connection of the sewer in potable water connections. The ordinance was unanimously approved on the first reading. A second reading will be conducted at the next town council meeting.
Wilkinson provided a bill to the council regarding a private contractor's sewer work on Main Street in the amount of $1523.45 plus $1895.
Boggs asked, "Are we liable for this?" Smith then wondered, "And if we eat this are we setting a precedent?"
"I don't think we ought to pay this," Smith continued. "The job could've been done to our specifications. Dennis or a town employee should've been involved in how the job was done."
"We weren't notified until after the work was completed," Starkey said. "I think we've made a judgement we won't do this if it wasn't done to our standards. We don't want to set that precedent."
The council agreed not to pay the bill for the private company's work since it wasn't ordered or approved by the town.
Before closing the meeting, South Whitley Town Council set a public meeting for March 21 at 6 p.m. in town hall. The purpose of the meeting will be to begin formulating action items to move forward on a comprehensive plan for South Whitley. The public is invited to attend.


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CCHS Band Boosters, students invite the community dinner and concert Saturday

From reports

CCHS band students and the CCHS Band Boosters are hosting a spaghetti dinner on Saturday, March 23, 2013, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a concert immediately following.
The dinner will be held in the CCHS Cafeteria.
Tickets are $7 for adults in advance or $8 at the door. Seniors age 55 and older are $6 in advance or $7 at the door. Children's tickets, for ages 10 and under, are $6 in advance or $7 at the door.
A bake sale and door prize drawing are also planned.
Presale tickets may be purchased from any CCHS band student, band director Helen Hockemeyer or at the Columbia City Valero station.


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Do you know these ladies?

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Our Old Type Writer columnist and local history expert Susie Duncan Sexton has provided a great historic photograph -- but she needs our help. Do you recognize any of the women in this photograph of the Blue Bell Factory choir? Susie says she recognizes Mrs. B. V. Widney, factory secretary Phyllis Mattix, Marilee York and Marjorie Cullimore Freeman. Do you know anyone else?
If you can help identify anyone in this photograph, please contact Susie Duncan Sexton at murphysmission@kconline.com or contact Talk of the Town at jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com and we'll be sure to pass the information along to Susie.


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Laughing Lotus Yoga Center shares hours for coming weeks

From reports

Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in Columbia City will have classes on Good Friday, March 29, 2013, from 9:30 to 11 a.m. For spring break, there will be no classes from March 30 through Friday, April 5. Classes will resume on Saturday, April 6 with class offered from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
For additional information about Laughing Lotus Yoga Studio, contact Tiffany Herron at milesofsmiles6@yahoo.com or call (260) 213-1953 or visit their Facebook page at "Laughing Lotus Yoga Center."


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March 19, 2013

Churubusco becomes county's first 'Indiana Main Street' community

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) The town of Churubusco, above, became the county's first Indiana Main Street community last week.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Churubusco officially became the first Indiana Main Street community in Whitley County last Tuesday.
Town clerk treasurer Madalyn Sade Bartl was very pleased with the news, confirmation of the town's cohesive effort to begin exciting redevelopment of the historic downtown area.
"We are very excited," Sade Bartl told members of the Whitley County Chamber of Commerce the following day after the designation was awarded.
She adds that while the town will not be officially eligible for Indiana Main Street grants, this initial step in the process will help pave the way for grant -funded projects next year and beyond.
Indiana Main Street, affiliated with the National Main Street Center, encourages the revitalization and restoration of downtown areas in cities and towns across the state. Via grant funding using public and private dollars, the program provides technical assistance and educational opportunities to participating communities.
Both Columbia City and South Whitley are actively pursuing Indiana Main Street status.


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Rotary gifts Whitley County Family YMCA today

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
Today, this Columbia City Rotary Club made a generous donation to the Whitley County Family YMCA in the amount of $500, supporting the organization's many good projects that encourage a healthy community. Above, Rotary club president Ben Romine presents the check to Whitley County Family YMCA director Erica Miller.


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Junior high girls invited to attend softball skill building sessions at CCHS

From reports

Calling all seventh and eighth grade girls who are wanting to improve their softball skills! Open gyms for softball skill building are set for March 21, March 25 and March 28 from 7:45 to 9:00 p.m. at the Donald S. Weeks Gymnasium at Columbia City High School. Participants are asked to come ready to practice in normal practice attire. Gym shoes are required. Enter through back doors of the gym.
For additional information, contact Dan at 610-8070.


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A Generous Community: United Way of Whitley County exceeds fundraising goals, raises $197,258 for good works in the community

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Cindy Baker, executive director of the United Way of Whitley County announced last week that the organization has exceeded it's 2012 fundraising goal and she's looking forward to the next step in the process -- awarding funds to worthwhile organizations and causes in the community.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The United Way of Whitley County has announced that they have reached their 2012 campaign goal -- an announcement that came as a pleasant surprise to those who feared restricted household budgets and a fragile economy might crimp the organization's ability to do the most good in the community.
Technically, the campaign does not officially close until the end of April, however Whitley County United Way executive director Cindy Baker announced Tuesday that they had raised $197,258 -- surpassing the goal of $190,000.
"It's fantastic," Baker beamed.
Baker said that when she first learned of the goal, she was a little apprehensive and unsure if it could be met, but as the campaign progressed, her faith in it's success grew.
"I think people who are truly connected to our community and want to see it thrive, give back," Baker said. "They can see how they can support what's important to them."
Baker believes trust is at the heart of the giving -- from trusting the mission of the United Way to trusting the board members and volunteers that make it all happen.
"We're just very thankful this community trusts us to invest their dollars back into the community," she said. "They trust organizations like us and the Whitley County Community Foundation to put their dollars where they need to go. Whether they choose to support a particular cause or make a general donation, people align with us, invest and it makes us a stronger community."
"We are grateful people do trust us," Baker continued. "Our campaign chairs June (Keiser) and Jacie (Worrick) have built strong relationships in this community and they've lived here all their lives. People trust them and trust the United Way board which is made of local people."
Current board members include Scott Gabriel, Deb Roy, Jill Koons, Wendy Miller, Shawn Ellis, Erika Miller, Carrie Meyer, Lisa Smith, Deanna Kissinger, Mindy Muchow, Amy Shimasaki and Melinda Woll.


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CCHS Baseball Boosters hosting barbecue chicken sale Saturday

From reports

The CCHS Baseball Boosters are hosting a Nelson’s barbecue chicken fundraiser in the parking lot near Walmart from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday, March 23, 2013.
The chicken is $6 per half and drive up service will be available that day.


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South Whitley Lions Club to raise funds for scholarship Saturday night

From reports

The South Whitley Lions Club will be having a tenderloin, mountain oyster and fish fry this Saturday, March 23 at 4 p.m. at the South Whitley-Cleveland Township Fire Station. Meals will be served until 7 p.m. or until they are sold out. 
Dinners are $8.50 for adults, $4 for children ages 6-14 and free for little ones ages 6 and under. 
All proceeds support the South Whitley Lions Club.


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Reid successful at State swim contest

(Talk of the Town photo provided)

Hannah Reid, 12, competed this past weekend at the 2013 Indiana Age Group State Swimming Championships in Indianapolis.
She placed fourth in 100 fly, sixth in 500 free and ninth in 200 free.
A resident of Columbia City, she is the daughter of Todd and Heather Reid and attends Canterbury School. She swims for SWAC in Fort Wayne.
Reid said she swam this past weekend in memory of family friend Justin Hinen who died tragically on March 6 in a snowmobiling accident.


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Earnhart, Yeager, Hicks and Tucker emerge as early candidates for Cleveland Township trustee caucus race

Citizens question candidate's ability to vote for himself in caucus

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Four Cleveland Township residents have already officially declared candidacy to run for the soon-to-be open township trustee position that will be formally vacated by Roland King on Monday.
According to Whitley County GOP chairman Matt Boyd, Judith Earnhart, James Yeager, Gary Hicks and Jorell Tucker have filed the official paperwork.
Yeager is vice chair of the South Whitley Plan Commission and a member of the South Whitley Board of Zoning Appeals.
Earnhart is the owner of a small business in downtown South Whitley and vice chair of the South Whitley Board of Zoning Appeals.
Tucker is director of the Whitley County Solid Waste District and a member of the Whitko School board.
Hicks is a former small business owner and a member of the Cleveland Township Advisory Board.
Boyd believes this list of candidates may grow by the 4:30 p.m. Friday deadline to file necessary paperwork.
"I anticipate at least two others," Boyd said, calling back a short while later to add two additional names to the list. The list of candidates could swell to as many as five or six by Friday.
Unlike a normal election, because this is a resignation within the term, the new trustee will be selected by caucus -- meaning the caucus winner will be selected by the just three precinct committee members in that township: Tucker (who is also a precinct committee member in addition to candidate), Laurell Hodges and Debra Zawlocki. If there would be a tie, Boyd would be required, by statute, to break the tie and declare a winner.
Tucker is, by law, allowed to vote for himself in the caucus as a candidate and also precinct committeeman -- something that has resulted in questions directed at Boyd and others who've raised eyebrows at this process.
"If you don't like the process, be involved -- that's the big thing it comes down to," Boyd said. If more citizens were involved in their local government, it could be reasoned, it would be less likely that the same people would run for all the available positions and to be both candidates and precinct committee members.
Once elected, the winner of Tuesday evening's caucus would be trustee of Cleveland Township from Tuesday, March 26, 2013 through December 31, 2014, and could choose to run for re-election in 2014.
There is still time for others to get involved and join the race.
To be eligible to run in the caucus, the candidate must be a registered voter from Cleveland Township in Whitley County, file a form CEB-5 in the County Clerk’s office by Friday, March 22, 2013, and deliver a copy of that form to the Whitley County Republican party chairman (Matt Boyd), by Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m.
The caucus will be held at South Whitley's Town Hall on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. the public is invited to attend and observe, but the voting will be conducted with the three precinct committee members via secret ballot.
For information about filing, contact Matt Boyd at mattboyd@centurylink.net

 

 

 

 


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Dazzlers return with national cheerleading title

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
The Whitley County Dazzlers are back home today, following an incredibly exciting and successful cheerleading competition in Myrtle Beach -- where they brought home the national championship title. The team won a scholarship to attend the Cheer LTD national contest in January. Team members, in no particular order above, include Jyl Riemersma, Brooke Silk, Samara Pfeiffer, Payton Jagger, Mary Hyndman, Alisha Kimmel, Ava Rowe, Sydney Pequignot and Alexis Kyles. Volunteer coaches include Vanessa Bills, Kaycee Bills, Sarah Horn, Elaine Horn, Loryn Usher and Brenna Halferty. This very special squad is comprised of girls with physical and intellectual disabilities who share a love of cheerleading.


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'Busco hosting spaghetti dinner, silent auction to benefit the park on April 12

From reports

The town of Churubusco will be having hosting spaghetti dinner, bake sale, and silent auction at the Scout Building on April 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. It is A freewill donation will be accepted and all proceeds benefit the Churubusco Park.
A silent auction is planned. Some of the items include a Vera Bradley bag and wallet, a gym bag and Zumba passes, a 1 year subscrition to the Churubusco News, $20 gift certificate to K&K, pizzas from East of Chicago, $50 Kirkland's Gift Certificate, pizzas from Papa's Place and more. If your business is interested in donating items, contact Madalyn Sade Bartl at 693-9350


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Deadline to apply for scholarships from the Whitley County Community Foundation is approaching

From reports

Parents and senior high school students in Whitley County will want to be aware that the deadline for applying for scholarships available through the Whitley County Community Foundation is Monday, April 15, 2013.
For a complete listing of scholarships available to students from all three local high schools, including Churubusco High School, Whitko High School and Columbia City High School, visit  http://www.whitleycountycommunityfoundation.org/whitley.html


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March 18, 2013

New ordinance will be written to address illegal sewer connection language

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

After much discussion at the past two Columbia City Common Council meetings regarding State-ordered mandates for sump pump, perimeter drains and other lines incorrectly tied into storm drains, council was presented with some helpful information Tuesday evening.
After some fact-finding, Mayor Ryan Daniel and City Sewer department director Mike Cook said they'd talked with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and determined that it would be possible to handle the issue in a way that does not unnecessarily penalize residents -- a concern that council members stood firm on at prior meetings. Previously, it was thought that once the ordinance verbiage was enacted, any resident with a known illegal connection would be fined $250 per day until the issue was remediated. Cook and Daniel, however, have been assured that it is possible to set a date and any new construction or rehab project moving forward would be under the restrictions, but prior connections would not.
Daniel suggested letting the original ordanance that was initially read in February and tabled later that month die and that a new ordinance with fresh language be written.
The motion then died on the second reading. A newly written ordinance will be prepared and presented for consideration at a future meeting.
Councilman Ben Romine said he'd like the new ordinance to reflect who, specifically, would be responsible for approving sewer connections in the future, something Daniel said would be easy to do.
"We can just harken back to what the other ordinance said," he said.


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City council approves unrestricted parking lot, lot rules lifted at 8 a.m. on March 25

(Talk of the Town graphic provided) The aerial image above shows the parking lot between the Reiff Building and the US Post Office on Chauncey Street that will become urestricted parking on March 25 at 8 a.m. 

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Taking into account the many perspectives of citizens, the Columbia city council approved a measure to designate a 26-space parking lot in downtown Columbia City as unrestricted during their Tuesday night meeting.
As such, the lot, located between the Reiff Building and the US Post Office, on the west side of Chauncey Street, will be open on a first-come basis for parking longer than the two hour parking that guides most of the other parking in the downtown area.
The lot becomes unrestricted on March 25 at 8 a.m.
Parking in this location will meet the needs of those living in downtown apartments, business owners and those whose business in the downtown might require they remain parked longer than the enforced two hours available in other areas. Council's move on this matter was viewed by many concerned citizens as a positive one, showing flexibility and a willingness to seek solutions.
There were, however, vocal opponents of the unrestricted lot who approached Daniel and at least one other council member to say they wanted it to remain a two hour lot only.
Councilman Ben Romine said that not offering a solution for longer term parking in the downtown area could have a negative impact, saying a lack of unrestricted parking was detrimental to service businesses (lawyers, insurance, etc.) that might require customers stay for a longer period of time and he seemed doubtful that enough retail enterprises would be found to make up for their absence were those service businesses to decide to leave the downtown area.
"Honestly, there's no way to make everyone happy," said Councilman Dan Weigold. "This is a viable option. Let's try it. It supports more positive than the negative."
Daniel described the move as compromise.
"We'll see how it works...if it doesn't, let's go back to the drawing board," he said.
Councilman Romine and Councilman Bill Simpson thought it might be prudent to revisit the issue in six months to determine if it is a suitable long-term solution.
Weigold, a member of the parking committee, said the matter of reviewing the lot's usefulness in six months would be taken under advisement.
The decision to create the unrestricted lot was unanimously approved on the second reading. The lot will officially be unrestricted at 8 a.m. on March 25 and will be open to any motorist on a first come, first served basis.


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Churubusco's annual Rotary Auction is Tuesday

From reports

The Churubusco Rotary's annual Community and Scholarship Auction will be held Tuesday, March 19, 2013, in the Churubusco High School cafeteria. The event begins with a buffet dinner at 5:45 p.m. The auction begins at 6:30 p.m. A free will donation for the meal will be accepted.
Hundreds of items from generous local businesses and individuals will be up for bid, including golf gift certificates to Eel River Golf Course, Fort Wayne Philharmonic tickets, Fort Wayne Children's Zoo tickets, tickets to other attractions such as Science Central, First Presbyterian Theatre, Black Pine Animal Park and much more. Additionally, look foward to Smith-Green sports passes and camping at the Blue Lake Campground.
Items are still being accepted. To donate an item, contact Chuck Jones at 609-1895 or Jack Green at 760-6668.
Proceeds from the annual auction support scholarships to Churubusco area students and community projects.


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March 16, 2013

Whitley County Dazzlers win Nationals!

Talk of the Town received word earlier this evening that the Whitley County Dazzlers won the National Champions in Myrtle Beach today! We will share more information as soon as it is available!
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March 15, 2013

Cleveland trustee resigns, GOP plans caucus to secure replacement

The Whitley County Republican Party is holding a caucus to fill a vacancy in the office of Cleveland Township Trustee with the resignation of Roland King effective Monday, March 25, 2013. The purpose of the caucus is to fill the vacant elected office with a Republican from Cleveland Township for the remainder of the term, which is from Tuesday, March 26, 2013 through December 31, 2014. To be eligible to run in the caucus a person must be a registered voter from Cleveland Township in Whitley County, be a Republican and file a form CEB-5 in the County Clerk’s office by Friday, March 22, 2013, and deliver a copy of that form to the Whitley County Republican Party Chairman, Matt Boyd, by Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m. The caucus is open to the public to attend, though the only people allowed to vote in the caucus are the Republican precinct committeemen from Cleveland Township. Voting will be by secret ballot. The caucus will be held Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 7 p.m. in South Whitley Town Hall located at 118 E Front Street, South Whitley. For more information please contact Whitley County GOP chairman Matt Boyd at 244-3887 or mattboyd@centurylink.net
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March 14, 2013

Council takes measures to prevent strip clubs in Columbia City

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Columbia City Common Council began a proactive approach to preventing adult entertainment businesses from setting up shop in the city Tuesday evening.
In a unanimous vote on its first reading, the council approved a measure to prohibit nude and semi-nude acts in a commercial establishment -- a first step toward preventing strip clubs from opening in the city.
Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel said the ordinance was put forth in an effort to prevent the kind of public upset and ongoing issues the town of Angola has been facing regarding strip clubs opening there.
"The city of Angola has been having a quite a fight on their hands regarding strip clubs," Daniel said. "We've had some issues with things of this nature wanting to or thinking of moving to this town and we've decided to be proactive."
Daniel said, in talking with citizens, the feeling of this community is very wholesome. "What you see is family values in this community," he said.
In selecting the wording for the ordinance, which is very descriptive and succinct, caused more than a few faces to blush, eyebrows to raise and some nervous laughter.
"I'm not quite sure how you can talk about any of this," a councilman said, obviously embarrassed by some of the subject matter outlined in the ordinance.
But, according to Daniel, the descriptive, detailed nature of the ordinance is what will make it successful should it be challenged in the future. He said the language in the ordinance was obtained from an ordinance written by the City of Warsaw -- and, most importantly, it has held up in courts.
Councilman Dan Weigold asked if the council might want to go a step further to safeguard the community by addressing zoning and Daniel agreed that might also make sense.
"It is better to be proactive than reactive," said Councilwoman Jacie Worrick.
The ordinance unanimously passed the first reading and will be up for a second and final reading on March 26.


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Chamber's EXPO provides plenty to see and sample Saturday at ISMS

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The Whitley County Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 EXPO will highlight the best businesses and nonprofit organizations the community has to offer.
Slated for Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event will be held at Indian Springs Middle School, just south of Columbia City. Admission and parking are free.
“We have over 50 businesses committed right now and they’re still rolling in,” said Whitley County Chamber of Commerce executive director Doug Brown. In addition to those booths, Brown said there will be an indoor Whitley County Farmers Market featuring about seven booths with a variety of merchandise and plants for sale.
“What we have will be a good mix of businesses from around our community and a few from beyond,” said Brown. “We’ll have a few unique businesses there too...truly something for everyone.”
Visitors can look forward to great entertainment, games and prizes.
Brown feels the annual Expo is a particular great event in that it manages to put so many businesses under one roof -- creating a venue that enhances commerce in the community and providing consumers with a wide variety to see and sample. Speaking of something to sample -- great food and beverages will be available for purchase from Brew Ha, The Cake Lady and Jill Daniel Menu & Party Planning.
“Realistically, you can’t visit that many businesses in a day and have the kind of one-on-one interaction that you can have at the Whitley County Expo,” added Brown.
Major sponsors of this year’s event include J&J Insurance, Indiana Tech and CenturyLink.

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Two approved for new membership in Delta Kappa Gamma

Article provided

The Alpha Zeta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International met at 8:30 a.m. on March 3, 2013 at Hope Lutheran Church in Columbia City.
President Victoria Eastman welcomed members and guests. Karen Bandelier offered prayer and gave instructions before the delicious waffle breakfast prepared by the committee.
The business meeting was called to order by Eastman. The January 2013 minutes were approved and the treasurer’s report was presented and filed for audit.
Evelyn Priddy read a letter from Judy Ward asking for financial support and for volunteers for the FAME event in Wabash on April 13, 2013. Donna Ott moved that a basket be passed for a collection for FAME at the April meeting.
Membership chair Mary Lou Fries presented nominations for new members. Carol Winterholter announced that the April meeting will focus on the members of our local chapter. The theme will be “If These Shoes Could Talk…” and members are encouraged to bring a pair of shoes that could tell a story.
Personal Growth chair Ann Ambler sent an activity which had members on their feet repeating the positive statements she read. Members were encouraged to “be excited” and formed exclamation points at the end of the reading.
Sally Gerard of Professional Affairs presented the names of applicants for the grants-in-aid.
Legislative chair Barb Buroker reported on several news articles pertaining to legislative issues.
Scholarship Chair Waneta Bundy reported that the education department of Manchester University will select the recipient of the Esther Mae Ashley Scholarship.
The Fine and Scholarship boxes were passed while Kathaleen Reese led the group in singing “To Delta Kappa Gamma” from the 1955 music book and “Delta Kappa Gamma Fight Song” composed by Reese for a previous meeting.
Treasurer Darlene Bockelman presented the proposed budget for 2013-2014 which was approved. Mary Lou Fries announced the results of the balloting for new members declaring that Chaitra Jewell and Kathryn Holtz were accepted for membership.
Janet Vesa, Barba Eickhoff, Carol Herzog and Donna Ott presented the proposed Standing Rules. The final proposal will be presented for a vote in April.
Carol Herzog moved that the monies collected from the silent auction be sent to the International Projects Emergency Fund. Second Vice President Roxanne Thomas announced that $370.15 had been collect prior to today for the special project of donating to the GED programs in Huntington, Wabash, and Whitley counties.
Eastman thanked Karen Bandelier and her committee for hosting the meeting. The meeting concluded with singing the Delta Kappa Gamma song.
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Snippers now offering gel manicure -- and March manicure special

Article provided

Snippers Is excited to announce that they are now providing gel polish services and they are currently offering a special promotion -- for the rest of the month of March receive a gel polish manicure for the low of price of $20 -- a $15 savings.
What is gel polish? Unlike a traditional nail polish, soak-off gel polish is painted on with a brush and each layer is cured under a UV light to dry. Soak-off gels come in a wide array of colors and finishes with unbelievable shine.
Benefits include quick dry time, no smudging, no dents, long lasting, no chipping and it works on natural nails.
To schedule a manicure, call  248-8350 today to schedule your appointment with Liz.


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March 13, 2013

The Good & The Bad: Columbia City's tax rate down 3% and assessed value up $2 million; utility rate hike forecasted to meet federal mandates

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

There was good news and there was some concerning news on the horizon, too, at the Columbia City Common Council meeting Tuesday night.
The good news, according to city clerk treasurer Rosie Coyle, is that the city's tax rate went down 3% and the assessed value of property in the city went up by $2 million.
And the bad news...after reviewing the proposed expense and funds available to pay for federally mandated changes to the city's sewer system, essentially the last two steps needed to separate the former combined storm and sanitary sewers, utility rates will need to be raised signifcantly, said an accountant charged with reviewing the matter.
Years ago, the community operated with a combined sewer system, meaning storm water and human waste from homes would flow together. This worked well until significant rainfall -- at which time overages, including human solid waste, would pour into the river. Environmental concerns, combined with laws, made it necessary to require communities to make changes necessary to separate their sewer systems and ensure human waste was not flowing into waterways. Columbia City has been proactive in this area, moving forward with several steps toward the total separate of the system, but it is not all complete yet.
Certified public accountant Jeff Rowe of Umbaugh & Associates, an advisory firm that specializes in providing financial guidance for cities, took a careful look at the factors and shared his findings with council.
In many ways, the local government is backed into a corner -- the projects must be completed -- and to fund them, it is going to require a 50% increase in rates over a period of years. A 37% increase will need to be felt by 2019 and the total increase will need to be enacted by 2023.
"It's ridiculous (the federal government) is forcing us into this situation without any kind of help," said councilman Dan Weigold. "We're pretty much financially strapped," he added, saying residents' often limited incomes would experience signifcant rate hikes in a very negative way.
"These are very difficult economic times we're in," Mayor Ryan Daniel said, mirroring Weigold's concerns. "There aren't dollar amounts attached to these mandates. And it's not like the State or IDEM will be getting these calls (from citizens) -- it's all of you," Daniel said, looking around the room at council members and city employees in attendance.
Daniel said rate hikes are one answer, but he hopes finding grants and lower interest rate loans will also be part of the solution.
"We are going to do everything we can to cut down on the cost," Daniel continued. "This is a hard pill for our citizens -- a hard pill for all of us -- to swallow."
Daniel said that rather than wait until 2019 and take a major rate hike at that time -- he felt it wise to consider phasing in the proposed increase gradually as soon as this year.
"We're also citizens...and for the sake of our citizens, if we're going to do this, I think we should start early and stair step in increments," said Daniel, adding that any steep increase could damage the local economy in a way that is unfathomable. "That could shock our economy in a way that we've not seen," he said.
"I would much rather have a 2-3% increase...from a consumer standpoint, it's much easier to adjust with a small rate increase every year," advised Councilwoman Jacie Worrick.
"It's painful and it stinks and our customers are not going to be pleased," added Daniel.
"I don't know what this answer is going to be," said Councilman Bill Simpson of all that will need to be determined between now and a proposed rate hike, "but I don't think there's a good answer."
Despite recent action on the projects to divide the sewer, Councilwoman Nicole Penrod believes more could have possibly been done in the past to prepare for what is now inevitable. "But, we have to look forward at what's going to be better for people in the long run," she said.
The proposed rate increases are likely to be a major topic of discussion at all council meetings moving forward.

In other city matters:
- An ordinance prohibiting strip clubs in the city was approved on its first reading. A second reading is planned for March 26 at the 7 p.m. council meeting.
- An ordinance designating an unrestricted, all hours parking lot near the US Post Office was approved on it's second reading. The lot will become unrestricted and separate from the two-hour parking in other areas of the downtown at 8 a.m. on March 25.
- An ordinance addressing the fire prevention code, which was updated to include State codes for the marking of fire lanes, was approved. Fire chief Tom LaRue will be contacting property owners with fire lanes to ensure they are compliant and if they are found to be non-compliant, they will be given 30 days to address the situation.
- An ordinance involving illegal connections to the sewer system was killed at it's second reading and will be rewritten to include new information obtained from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
- Council formally recommended incoming electric department director Shawn Lickey to replace Larry Whetstone as the community's Indiana Municipal Power Agency commissioner. Whetstone will be retiring later this spring, and Lickey is gradually taking on his responsibilities.

Editor's Note: Expanded stories on several of these topics of discussion at the Columbia City Council meeting will be posted tomorrow on Talk of the Town.


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Opportunity to tour Indiana wineries, spend time at the Charley Creek Inn make Tour De'Vine a spring must-do

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) 

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

If you're wanting to expand your knowledge of wines in general or wanting to learn more about the great wineries in Indiana -- particularly in a safe, enjoyable way -- BonVoyHodge.com's upcoming Indiana Wine Tour will provide all of that and more.
Slated for Saturday, May 4, 2013, the Tour De'Vine Wine Tour will begin and end at the beautiful Charley Creek Inn in Wabash.
"It's a great way to experience Indiana's wine country and not worry about how many samples you have had," said BonVoyHodge.com owner Amy Crickmore. "The benefits of taking our wine tour are that it will be fun, original and an educational experience."
"Besides tasting wine, our tours will provide a behind the scenes that will show you the equipment used for the process, explanation of how the wine is made and stored. Our fun, friendly and very knowledgeable guides, truly wants you to have an unforgettable Wine Country Journey," Crickmore added. "We have established personal relationships with many of the wineries, which ensure you, have a great experience. Winemakers and winery owners are among the world’s most charming and interesting people."
The wineries on the tour will include People's Winery in Logansport, Whyte Horse Winery in Monticello, Indian Trails Wines in Royal Center, McClure's Orchard & Winery in Peru. Lunch is planned at Sportsman Inn in Monticello and a wine tasting will be offered at the historic Charley Creek Inn.
The tour includes:
- A visit to four wineries and one tasting room
- A behind the scenes tour at one winery
- Souvenir wine glasses
- Souvenir wine lanyard holder
- Lunch with a glass of wine
- Admission to tastings at each winery and tasting room
- Comfortable coach ride to each location
- Games and prizes as you travel in comfort
Obviously, the wineries will be a lot of fun -- but so will the traveling.
"We will make sure the day is a lot of fun by providing entertainment and prizes on the bus, while making sure you learn something to increase your appreciation of wine," Crickmore said. "We want you to kick back and relax and enjoy the wine tasting."
"We feel there is no better way to enjoy wine tasting than to be chauffeured around while not having the worry about driving. We would not recommend doing this wine tour on your own, chances are you will taste more wine than you expected to — those little tastes add up," said Crickmore. "Not only that, if you’re not used to drinking wine early in the day, it could catch up with you fast. Just let our bus tour guide you to the most beautiful parts of Indiana wine country. Safety is also is an importance to us and our drivers have great driving record and participate in random drug screening in accordance with State law."
"In addition, we are giving everyone a chance to reserve a room at the end of the day at the Charley Creek Inn," Crickmore added. "It will be a nice way to end the day. We can only hold the rooms until March 15, so you will want to book early to make sure you get a room."
The event is only open to those ages 21 and over.
Prices are:
Bus tour only:  $79.99 per person
Hotel Room & Wine Tour:  $157.70 per person or $315.40 a room
Hotel Room & Wine Tour for a Single Occupant:  $219.98
For more information or to reserve your spot please email Amy Crickmore at amy@bvhtravel.com or call 723-4848. Credit cards are now accepted.


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80/20 plans to invest $11 million in expansion, adding 97 jobs by 2016

(Talk of the Town photo by Katelyn Hancock) Above, Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf, Governor Mike Pence and 80/20 CEO Don Wood discuss the proposed $11 million expansion project at the facility. 

By Katelyn Hancock

Governor Mike Pence joined executives from 80/20 Inc., a t-slotted aluminum components and framing provider, today to announce the company's plans to expand its headquarters here, creating up to 97 new jobs by 2016.
The homegrown-Hoosier company, which designs and manufactures modular extruded aluminum framing for a variety of industrial and home-hobby applications, will invest $11 million to build an additional 31,000 square feet onto its existing 250,000 square-foot facility on its 38-acre Columbia City campus. Construction of the new addition, which will house a training auditorium and expanded office space, is expected to begin in April.
"While we continue to pursue the attraction of new business, it's equally as important to maintain an environment that allows existing companies like 80/20 to prosper," said Pence. "80/20 was founded here and their trend of growth is proof that our economic climate, robust infrastructure and superior workforce make the Hoosier State work for business."
The company's Whitley County campus is currently home to 329 full-time employees. 80/20 plans to begin filling new positions across the company later this spring. Interested applicants can apply at www.8020.net/careers.
"I love it here. Not only is this a great part of the country, but the central location of our business is very important. We're right in the heart of the market and transportation of our product is key. We've experienced great support in Indiana and Whitley County as they foster the growth of manufacturing companies," said Don Wood, president and chief executive officer of 80/20.
Born in 1989 in a 3,000 square-foot space in Fort Wayne, the company moved to its Columbia City campus in 1996. 80/20's modular aluminum framing components, known as "The Industrial Erector Set," are configured for safety enclosures, workstations, CNC equipment and exhibits among other uses.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered 80/20 Inc. up to $650,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $75,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. Whitley County approved additional property tax abatement at the request of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation.
"On behalf of the Whitley County Commissioners, I commend 80/20's leadership for their ongoing commitment to our community and congratulate the entire 80/20 team for reaching this milestone," said Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf. "As this is the company's sixth expansion since residing in Whitley County, 80/20 is indeed an architect of our community's economic success."
80/20 recently launched a new high school educational initiative in partnership with Whitley County Consolidated Schools and Ivy Tech Corporate College. The project-based program is designed around the company's Industrial Erector Set, emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills through blueprints and sketching, metallurgy, measurement systems, design concepts, industrial safety, teamwork and entrepreneurship. Currently 130 students from area schools are enrolled in the course.
Today's announcement is 80/20's third expansion in recent years. In 2011, the aluminum components provider made plans to invest $9.4 million to construct more than 90,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space at its Columbia City campus, adding 110 new jobs. Also, the company announced plans in 2008 to invest $5 million and create 40 new positions to expand manufacturing and distribution capabilities at the site.


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'Neuter for a Nickle' day offered to help control local pet population

From reports

The Humane Society of Whitley County is helping local residents control the unwanted pet population by offering a "Neuter for a Nickel" day on Saturday, April 13, 2013, by appointment only.
This clinic is for male cats only and all cats must be brought to the shelter in their own carrier. There is a limit of five male cats per household. No walk-ins will be accepted.
For more information, call 260-212-2324 and leave a message with your name, phone number and the total number of male cats to be neutered.


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Columbia City Rotarians plan final scholarship auction in hopes of building endowment fund

From reports

Think spring! Think picnic! Think Rotary auction!
All  these  elements  are being combined in the Columbia City Rotary Club’s 2013 Rotary Scholarship Auction  Friday, May 3, 2013, at the Eagles Nest Event Center.  It will be an informal, community-wide picnic, starting at 6:30 p.m.
This auction will be the final auction event of it's kind for the Columbia City Rotary in hopes the organization will raise enough funds to top off their endowment at the Whitley County Community Foundation, enabling them to award the scholarships in the future without the need for fundraising.
Dinner will include pulled pork and sloppy joes.
Step into spring with a bid on one of many golf outings provided by local golfers and golf courses. Buy a weekend outing at a popular get-away. Or, purchase Big Ten  sporting event tickets. How about some locally-produced maple syrup?
In addition, dozens of items will be up for sale on silent auction tables.
According to the Rotarians, the main purpose for this fun-filled evening is to raise scholarship money for Columbia City High School seniors. For several years, the Columbia City Rotary Club has awarded  three scholarships valued at $3,000 each.
Tickets are $15 per person or $110 for a table of eight.
Tickets may be purchased from any Columbia City Rotarian and from Rotarian Jacie Worrick at J & J Insurance. For additional information, call 244-6426.


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Genetics speaker to discuss inherited disorders at upcoming Ivy Tech presentation

By Christine Barlow

Science educator and international speaker Sam Rhine is returning to Ivy Tech Community College−Northeast to give a presentation titled “The New Era in Human Genetics: The Inheritance of Common Human Conditions” from 5:30 to 7 p.m., March 27, 2013, at Ivy Tech’s Coliseum Campus (3800 North Anthony Blvd.) in the auditorium, Room CC1200.
Rhine will present a summary of the latest research in human genetics as it applies to inherited disorders. This presentation will benefit all students in the health and life sciences, as well as any individual who is afflicted with an inherited disorder. The lecture is free and open to the public.
In 2012, Rhine presented “Recent Advances in Cloning and Stem Cell Technology” at Ivy Tech−Northeast.
Rhine was named Distinguished Hoosier Scholar by Hoosier Association of Science Teachers Inc., in 2007, among other honors. For more information about Rhine, visit www.samrhine.com


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March 12, 2013

'The Outrage' begins dialogue between youth, parents and community about domestic violence

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Domestic violence is a hidden problem in society and, sadly, here in our community -- and it is a scourge that often begins in adolescence when youths begin modeling behavior they've seen in their homes on others.
According to statistics provided by the Whitley County Domestic Violence Task force, which come from www.loveisrespect.org :
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year
- One in three girls in the US is victim to physical,emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence
- One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape
- The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
- Violent behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 18. About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are ‘dating’.
- Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
- Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
All of this ads up to a problem the Whitley County Domestic Violence Task force hopes to address through programs at the high school level in this community. In February, the group continually put forth the message of non-violence in Columbia City and Whitko High Schools.
This week, the group is presenting several performances of a play geared at addressing domestic violence in teens. The play called "The Outrage" is being performed by a group of Whitley County teens and it is produced by SAFEHOME, a domestic violence agency, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Sexual Violence Prevention Education. Performers include several students from Columbia City High School, one from Churubusco and one from Whitko.
Two performances were presented at Columbia City High School today and on Thursday, the play will be presented at Troy Center, an alternative school in northern Whitley County.
To further study how the message of non-violence has been expressed to the students, discussions are planned following the performances to open a dialogue between staff and students. Following that, the students will be given a confidential evaluation form to chart their impressions of the performances.
'We have purchased the scripts so we can do this every year if we would like to," said Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force president Natalie Lewis. Lewis said she hopes that next year, performances might be offered at Whitko and Churubusco high schools as well -- especially since the message is so critical in stopping the cycle of violence.
"The message is equally important to the parents because 54% of parents never talk to their teens about dating violence and how to handle that situation," said Whitley County Domestic Violence Task Force founder Sherry Sausaman. "Parents make assumptions that their daughter or son will not be in a situation that is controlling, verbally abusive and parents make even more detrimental assumptions that their child will not be a victim of sexual assault."
Sausaman believes there is more parents can do.
"Parents talk to their teens about driving safely and what to do if they are in an accident, many parents talk to their teens about drugs and drinking, parents talk to their kids about preparing for college or getting a job, but few talk to their teens about how to deal with another person that is telling you who you can be friends with and who you can’t, what you can and can’t wear and what to do if they are physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend," she said. This dialog should begin early and happen often.
"It’s about prevention! How young is too young to teach healthy relationships in order to break the cycle of violence in the home and prevent it from continuing," said Sausaman.
"Teens and pre-teens are the next generation of Whitley County and it will take generations of education in order to prevent the domestic violence from escalating in years to come and it is takes an entire community to make that impactful change."
Sausaman and Lewis agree that starting dialogue is just the beginning. More will need to be done to reduce and end domestic violence in our community.
"The message has to be heard that Whitley County is not exempt from domestic violence and the community has to own the responsibility of change," concluded Sausaman. "Therefore, the task force will continue to educate at all age levels as we are able."


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South Whitley cleans up, gets creative with recent snowfall

(Tribune-News photos by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
With all the snow we got last week, clean up was a round-the-clock job for many in the community, even when temperatures warmed up -- piles of snow stuck around. Above, the South Whitley Street Department worked throughout the day Thursday and Friday to clear streets and sidewalks. At right, with the time off school Wednesday and plenty of dense, packable snow readily available -- many residents set about sculpting the snow, creating this creative snow fellow. His creators made eyes with pink pastic balls, what appears to be a button nose, a jump rope mouth and buttons made from bright yellow wiffle balls. Perhaps spring and summer sports are on their minds?


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Reservations still accepted for Whitley County Historical Society's annual dinner

From reports

Reservations are still being accepted for the Whitley County Historical Society's annual meeting and banquet, planned for Monday, March 25, 2013, at Brownstone on State, in South Whitley.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m, with dinner served at 6 p.m.
The keynote speaker is Bob Dispenza, park and education manager for Allen County Parks, who will speak on canals and the impact they had on our region.
To attend, make your reservations today by calling the Whitley County Historical Society at 244-6372 by March 20.  Tickets are $19 each, and the evening is open to both members and non-members of the organization.


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Motorists advised to use caution near Jefferson, Whitley streets in Columbia City this morning

According to the Whitley County Sheriff's Department, there is a gas leak at the corner of Whitley Street and Jefferson Street in Columbia City. Motorists are advised to use caution when traveling through there. Firefighters are on the scene and NIPSCO is enroute.
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March 11, 2013

Dazzlers ready to share cheerful spirits on the national stage

(Talk of the Town photo provided) The Whitley County Dazzlers, a very special squad comprised of athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities, will depart for a national cheerleading competition in Myrtle Beach later this week.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

There's certainly the excitement of performing something you love on a national stage, but for one young lady with a visual impairment, it's the chance to feel the sand on her feet and to touch a wave in the ocean.
These reasons and many more provide the fire that's pushing local volunteer Vanessa Bills to bring her special needs cheerleading squad to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, next week to compete in a national cheerleading competition.
The Whitley County Dazzlers leave Thursday, March 14, 2013, for the Cheer Ltd Nationals where they will compete in the special needs category for those with physical and intellectual disabilities, one of 10 squads that will be competing.
Bills never expected her squad to have this opportunity. At a competition on January 28 at Bishop Dwenger High School, the squad received a $1000 grant to cover their registration fee for the national contest and at that moment a ball began rolling and it hasn't stopped.
"We usually just go for the ones that are free," Bills said of other competitions the squad has participated in thus far. Hearing of the $1000 price tag for nationals, it just seemed out of reach...until they won the grant.
"In one week, everything just started to fall into place," she said.
Fundraising commenced immediately. Living accommodations for the squad and an entourage of 38, including two bus drivers, were donated. A tour bus through Columbia City United Methodist Church became available to transport the girls and their parents at a discounted rate. Donations from businesses and individuals began rolling in to the Whitley County Dazzlers Fund at the Whitley County Community Foundation. Additionally, a candy sale, a Zumba fundraiser and a pizza fundraiser at Bugsy's Pizza in downtown Columbia City were very successful. Word of mouth, fueled by great emotion, has brought the goal of sending a squad of special needs cheerleaders to the national contest to reality -- often just pennies at a time.
"It's been unbelievable...like pennies from Heaven," Bills said, her voice cracking with emotion. "It was very sweet."
With the fundraising concerns aside, Bills has been focused on her squad's routine.
"It's basically the same as we've done at other events, but we've tweaked it a little. We try not to change things much, but these girls are great and they go with the flow," added Bills, saying the girls have battled illness and injury this season that have made revisions to their routines necessary, but they've shown great flexibility and resilience.
All of the girls are excited about the contest and, surprisingly, not phased about being in the spotlight on a national stage.
"The girls aren't nervous at all," Bills said, laughing. "We're all nervous," she said of volunteers who help with the squad, but added, "The girls just love to be on stage!"
In addition to competing, they'll have the opportunity to meet with peer squads -- girls just like them -- from all over. One night, Bills said, they'll spend time with a squad of 22 girls to exchange t-shirts and stories.
"One little girl just wants to feel the waves," said Bills of a Dazzler who is visually impaired. She's never been to the ocean and this event is her avenue to make that happen -- just one of many stories that inspired local residents to give and encouraged Bills to do what she could to make it all happen.
"This has all been really neat," she said. Bills said the support of the community has been amazing.
Whether they win or lose at the national contest is, in many ways, irrelevant to Bills and others close to the team.
"These girls are winners anyway," she said. "They'll all get a medal for participating. Typically we do exhibition style cheerleading and this is a competition...but it should be fun if nothing else."
While funds for the contest have been raised, the squad is always in need of community support. Uniforms and supplies are expensive -- up to $250 per year, per child. "This year, we didn't buy new uniforms, but they're all growing," Bills said. "I want this to be as free as it can be."
Donations designated for the Whitley County Dazzlers can be mailed to the Whitley County Community Foundation, attn: Whitley County Dazzlers Fund, 400 North Whitley Street, Columbia City, IN 46725. Donations can also be given online via PayPal -- for more information, click here.


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Wolf Lake United Methodist Church hosting Nelson's barbecue in Columbia City on April 6

From reports

Nothing says spring like the smell of Nelson's barbecue chicken on a Saturday afternoon!
Wolf Lake United Methodist Church will be hosting a Nelson's Golden Glo chicken barbecue on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot in Columbia City. Chicken halves will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the church.


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2013 Pasture Walk includes virtual tour of Scott Farm at Loon Lake

Article provided

The Whitley and Kosciusko Counties’ Soil and Water Conservation District will be hosting the 9th Annual Indoor Pasture Walk on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Larwill Middle School.   
This year’s Indoor Pasture Walk is going to provide beneficial information focusing on how producers can improve their rotational grazing systems.  Landowners will be able to go on a virtual tour of the Pence/Scott Registered Hereford Farm owned by Martha (Pence) and Dale Scott and Eric and Darcy Scott. 
The Scott Farm is located on the west side of Loon Lake.  The family has worked with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service office on the installation of numerous water quality and soil erosion control practices that have helped them become better stewards of the land and improve the water quality going to Loon Lake.   Before and after pictures will be shown as we “walk” around their farm.
The meeting will also have presentations from Craig Simons, a small beef producer from the Roanoke area.  Simons will be sharing how he has used annual forages successfully the last several years to supplement feeding his beef cow/calf herd.
The Indiana Irrigation Company, Inc. will be presenting information on the K Line Irrigation System that is being used to help irrigate pastures and other unique settings.
Cisco Seed Company will discuss pasture management concerns.  Information concerning how to supplement your existing pastures and feed supply; how did the drought affect our pastures; how to use annuals to extend grazing and what will be the shortage on seed varieties be in 2013.
The meeting is open to the public and there is no cost to attend.  
Larwill is located on US 30/SR 5 between Pierceton and Columbia City.  The Larwill Middle School is located ½ mile south of Larwill, Indiana on State Road 5 on the east side of the SR 5, or just 5 ½ miles north of South Whitley. The SWCD’s would like reservations for the meal.  Please call either 260-244-6266 ext 3 or 574-267-7445 ext. 3.  Reservations need to be made by Monday, March 18. 
The Whitley and Kosciusko SWCD’s would like to thank the following businesses for their sponsorship of this educational meeting: Cisco Seed Co; Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation; Ag Plus; Levy Co; Indiana Irrigation Co.; and Hometown Maintenance & Repair (Doug Sheetz). 


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March 08, 2013

Weigold crowned Mr. CCHS Friday night

Following an evening of competition and charm, Columbia City High School student Kyle Weigold was crowned Mr. CCHS. The third annual pageant event was held in the Newell Rice Auditorium Friday evening, March 8. First runner up was Isaiah Kreider.
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State Police aim to reduce alcohol fatalities with sobriety checkpoints

The Kosciusko County DUI Taskforce will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint in Warsaw during the late evening hours on Friday, March 8 and continuing into the early morning hours of Saturday, March 9. In an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related automobile crashes, the sobriety checkpoint will target the impaired driver and will be utilized in an area identified as having a high number of alcohol related crashes. Sergeant Chad Hill is reminding motorists to have their driver’s license and vehicle registrations readily available when entering the checkpoint, so as to minimize the amount of time that they are delayed. Sgt. Hill also offers the following tips: • Plan ahead and always designate someone as a designated driver. • Don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’ve been consuming alcoholic beverages. • If you are impaired, please call a taxi or call a sober friend or family member to come and get you. • If you are hosting a party, always offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure that all of your guests leave with a sober driver. Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think that they are about to drive while impaired. The Kosciusko County DUI Taskforce & Traffic Safety Partnership is a joint operation of police officers from Warsaw, Winona Lake, Pierceton, North Webster, Syracuse, Milford, Mentone, Silver Lake, Claypool, and the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department that work to combat dangerous and impaired driving in Kosciusko County.
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March 07, 2013

Digging out of the drifts

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
Whitley County is still digging out of the drifted snow from the recent snow storm, but many are finding the resulting snow from this one and only major storm of the year somewhat fun. Above, Bill Meader helps remove snow from a neighbor's driveway Wednesday. This is Meader's first winter in the midwest having recently moved here from the east coast. He's been looking forward to a mighty midwestern winter all year -- and it finally arrived just weeks from springtime.


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Police chief completes tours of local school buildings, engages in dialogue with officials about school safety

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Tragedies have marked the names of previously unheard of schools like Columbine and Sandy Hook indelibly in our minds and drawn to the forefront concerns about safety in schools.
Columbia City Police Chief Tim Longenbaugh has begun regular meetings with local school officials to begin delineating the future of school safety in this community.
Last week, Longenbaugh finished tours of the seven Whitley County Consolidated Schools buildings.
"We've pointed out some things," Longbaugh said of a number of areas worth reviewing and in some cases, revising, to improve safety in the event of a disaster. Any concerns will be shared with WCCS's district safety team.
"Overall, it went really well," he said, adding that all of the schools have written safety plans in place,  an important initial step. Longenbaugh said next steps would include tactical activities like numbered doors and creating written tactical plans for law enforcement.
"It's important that we are familiar with each building," Longenbaugh said referring to the importance of the tours. In the event of a crisis situation, police would have knowledge of the layout of local buildings, potentially improving response and capabilities. "This definitely made us think about our plans and what we'd do."
Moving forward, Longenbaugh anticipates touring other school buildings in other county school districts because if a large scale crisis were to occur, the Columbia City Police Department would likely respond alongside other local and regional law enforcement -- and that understanding of the building design could prove critical.
Longenbaugh is pleased that is department has been included in the district's safety dialogue.
"We're excited about having more meetings with them and collaborating about our schools," he said. Discussions will be ongoing.


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Hurry up and sled!

(Talk of the Town photo by Tony Romano)
With up to 11 inches of snow on the ground and the knowledge that it won't be around forever, many local youths are spending their afternoon and evening hours sledding. Above, DeVol Field was a popular place for sledding Wednesday night, though, in light of recent developments within the park, many sledding fans have moved their fun to Morsches Park this winter, beginning a new tradition.


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Stutzman to host medical device roundtable, tour on Friday

From reports

U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman will host a statewide medical device jobs roundtable this Friday in Warsaw.
Stutzman will welcome Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Hoosier business leaders to a discussion about the industry’s strengths at home and challenges in Washington, D.C.
Following the round table, Stutzman and Paulsen will tour OrthoPediatrics.
Congressman Stutzman is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 523, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, introduced by Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN). The legislation eliminates the 2.3 percent tax on medical device sales included in President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Northeast Indiana is home to a third of the global orthopedic device manufacturing market. Hoosiers in the emerging sector manufacture artificial knees, hips, and spinal products.


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Faith Christian Academy plans preschool open house for prospective families

From reports

Faith Christian Academy will have an open house for preschool age children and their families on Monday, March 18, 2013, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the school.
Prospective families will be able to meet the teacher and have questions answered.  The curriculum from the kindergarten through eighth grade classes will be available -- enabling visitors to see what the future might hold.
Faith Christian Academy is Whitley County's only non-denominational Christian school, providing excellence in education for children since 1991.  Located at State Road 205 and US 30 in Columbia City, Faith Christian Academy offers advanced, yet individualized curriculum for preschoolers through eighth grade. God in the classroom, dedicated educators, involved parents, smaller class sizes and specialized attention for each child mean a learning experience unsurpassed in Whitley County.
Call 248-4872 or go to www.faithchristainwc.com for more information.


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Renew Ministries offering food, clothing and supply pantry at Tri Lakes

From reports

Those in need and those able to give will want to consider donating to a new food pantry that was set up recently at Tri Lakes, according to county councilwoman Paula Reimers.
Renew Ministries is affiliated with Community Harvest Food Bank and Feed America and it will be offering clothing, household supplies and food to residents in need. The pantry is being coordinated by Kate Method.
Renew Ministries will be open Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. at 5679 North Center Street, Tri Lakes.
Donations of food, clothing and household supplies would be welcomed and appreciated to stock the pantry.
For more information, contact Kate Method at 244-1800.


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Whitley County Humane Shelter in need of volunteers with strong customer service skills

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The Whitley County Humane Society is in need of a few hands -- to help with all those paws.
"We are looking for a volunteer to help out during our open hours, approximately 27 hrs a week," stated Whitley County Humane Society director of operations Lindsey Pease.
Pease said the volunteer position could potentially be divided up, as well.
The volunteer or volunteers would be
Ideal volunteer candidates would have excellent customer service skills, and they would be responsible for answering phones, greeting customers, filing and some general office duties.
Anyone interested in this volunteer opportunity should contact Pease at 244-6664 or visit the shelter at 951 South Line Street in Columbia City.


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March 06, 2013

Reader Photos: All eyes on the snow!


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Reader Photos: Snow Sculptures


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Reader Photos: Looks lovely in Larwill

(Talk of the Town photo by Joyce Linder)
The gently falling snow at the beginning of last night's storm was beautiful from the vantage point of the Linder family's home in Larwill, above.


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Larwill Town Council asks residents, 'How about hens?"

(Talk of the Town photo by Teresa Smith of the Tribune-News) Chickens, specifically hens, are the topic of discussion at the upcoming Larwill Town Council meeting on March 14. The council asks residents to weigh in with opinions on keeping just 3 hens per household within town limits. 

By Teresa Smith of the Tribune-News

Are hens helpful or a hinderance?
Larwill residents are asked to attend the Thursday, March 14 town council meeting and give their opinions about raising chickens - hens only - within town limits.
Council woman Lore Wolf said she's had three requests for a change to the town ordinance. If the birds are to be allowed, answers about confinement and manure disposal will be sought.
The council meets at 7 p.m. in town hall.
The topic of discussion was raised formally when Larwill Town Councilwoman Lore Wolf asked fellow council members what they thought about keeping chickens in town limits at the Thursday, February 14 meeting. She said three residents have asked about the possibility.
"No roosters, just hens. No more than three hens per property," she said, "The hens will still lay eggs and they're quiet." She said big cities like Denver and, recently, South Bend, are allowing the birds within certain constraints.
Currently, town laws prohibit farm animals.
Clerk-treasurer Renee Sills is against the idea.
"Speaking as a resident," she said, "I don't want chickens in town. Who makes sure they stay in a confined area? The sheriff's department or one of us? Who decides what the fenced-in area looks like? How do you get rid of the poop? The trash haulers won't pick it up."
It was observed that chicken manure made good fertilizer for gardens.
Councilman Mike Garwood said he didn't see any harm in having a couple of chickens.
Council president Rick Hobbs said this ought to be a matter for nieghbors to decide and he would like to hear every one's opinions about keeping the chickens from crossing the street. He noted that in several parts of town the border is right up against the back of houses so horses could, theoretically, be kept in just about anyone's back yard.
"Let's have a good, old fashioned, home town debate," he said.
With temperatures at 58-degrees in the meeting room because the furnace wouldn't kick on, the council opened bids for energy heating and air conditioning units from Masters Heating an Cooling for $4,211 and Redman Plumbing and Heating for $6,020. The Master's bid was approved.
Hobbs said a request has been made to install a concrete slab at the park for a basketball court. He said he's like to hear from more people about it.
Wolf said the resident beside the Swifty gas station has installed three soda pop machines in the front yard. Because the station is closed in the evenings, kids won't have to cross US 30 to get a cola. But one of the machines is out of order and the lights on it are dimming.
Town lawyer Greg Hockemeyer said at the very least selling pop would be considered a home occupation business.
Hobbs asked everyone not to get too excited about the situation. "Let's be realistic," he said, about enforcing any rules, "a guy wants to sell pop in his front yard and three of his neighbors want chickens."
Hockemeyer noted that the state lawmakers are considering doing away with any rental property fees paid by property owners to a city or town when renting their property. Some cities seem to be making quite a profit over the regulation. He said the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns would like a poll of fees compared to number of rental properties.
Sills said the town charges $100 for two years and there are only seven such properties in town.
Sills said there are two property owners who have until February 20 to fill out the rental form. For all she knows the property owners could be living there, which would take them off the rental list.
Sills presented the Whitley County Economic Development Corp.'s annual report for the board and citizens to review. She said no one called to make a personal presentation and the report was available in town hall, if anyone cared to read it.
Town lawyer Greg Hockemeyer said the latest report regarding town residents accessing the South Whitley Community Library as patrons is they may already be a part of the library's system.
"If the town wasn't specifically excluded," he said, "then it is included" according to Indiana State Library officials.
The council approved the purchase of a small electrical panel  for the baseball diamond area lift station at a cost of $1,400.


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Friday fish fry at Churubusco American Legion Post 157 to benefit local boys participating in MDA walk

From reports

A fish fry is planned for this Friday, March 8, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the American Legion Post 157 in Churubusco.
Proceeds from the fry will benefit Cole and Blake Van Houten, both affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The boys will participate in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Muscle Walk on March 24.


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Reader photos: South Whitley wakes up from the storm


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South Whitley Public Library hosting antiques appraisal event with professionals from Pierceton's Blue Pearl Antiques

From reports

Do you have family treasures throughout your home? Have you ever wondered what Great Aunt Susie’s brooch is worth? Now’s your chance to find out!
The South Whitley Public Library will be hosting a fun evening program of antique appraisal on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 5 p.m. at the library. Blue Pearl Antiques, a Pierceton antique store, will appraise your treasures for free. There is a limit of 2 items per person, but if time permits additional items may be allowed.
The library is located at 201 East Front Street in South Whitley.


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Whitley County's recycling 'on schedule' says director, trash pickup delayed a day in some areas

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Some confusion exists regarding trash and recycling pickup delays caused by the weather.
According to Jorell Tucker of the Whitley County Solid Waste Management District, which oversees the pickup of recyclable materials across the county, there is NO delay or closure of services today regarding Whitley Environmental.
Local residents, including residents of Churubusco and Columbia City, who utilize trash removal from Republic Services/National Serv-All -- they have suspended all trash and recycling collections for Wednesday, March 6. All collections for the rest of the week will be performed one day later than usual. Wednesday work will be performed on Thursday.  Thursday work on Friday and Friday work on Saturday.


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Share your photos!

Do you have some great photos of the weather to share? Send them to: jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com  We will be publishing them throughout the day today.


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Improperly installed sewer line results in expensive repair

By Teresa Smith of the Tribune-News

Troy Richards appeared at the February 12 South Whitley Town Council meeting regarding the property at 306 S. Main St. where a storm water line was apparently improperly installed and the sewer line to the house was crushed. Costs to replace the sewer line amounted to more than $3,300.
The contractor on the project will be contacted about paying for the bills.
In his report, utilities manager Dennis Eberhart said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's recent inspection of the water plant found two violations. Eberhart said IDEM wants to see a cross connection ordinance on the books detailing possible contamination of the water supply from industries.
He also noted inspectors were not unsatisfied with the main and valves mapping.
Eberhart also said the water plant alarm system isn't working in that they're not being broadcast to the wastewater treatment plant. This has been an ongoing problem since July.
Dave Harvey of Fleis and Vandenbrink said this apparently was an Internet connection problem and should be addressed by the Internet provider, CenturyLink.
Harvey also presented change order No. 13 in the amount of $81,027 to Gerig and Ottenweiller, contractors on the wastewater treatment plant upgrades, which was approved.
An operations manual is being prepared for the wastewater treatment plant, too.
A quote from McCallister to extend the generator's warranty from two to five years in the amount of $1,900 was presented along with a McCallister maintenance program in the amount of $1,066. These items were tabled.
Costs for the bank stabalization project near the wastewater treatment plant will be $265,052 for Phase 1, which includes the installation of very large stones along the river. The work would be done between March 1 and April 1. The second phase of stabilization would be completed this fall with plantings of water tolerant shrubs.
The town needs $88,000 for the project and several financing sources are being considered.
Randy Holler of Crossroads Bank was in attendance suggesting the town's accounts be used as collateral for a small interest (2-percent) loan.
Council took this recommendation under advisement pending approval from the state.
Town clerk-treasurer Bob Gould presented the January appropriations report, pointing out one fund that was nearly depleated because the workman's compensations insurance was paid for the year.
He also said Keystone, Indiana's official software company, presented a quote of $2,000 to create budgeted utility bills. He said he didn't mind figuring out a budget for 100 customers, manually adjusting the bills, but if a lot of customers requested the service, it might be worth the expense of a Keystone program.
Gould also asked that the utility employees read the meters within a three day period each month.
He said since town electrician Dave Mains retired, sometimes the readings are spread out over a longer period.
Town manager Dave Wilkinson said he will meet with American Water representatives who will conduct a water main survey.
Ronda Grube requested that State Street be closed off for the annual car show, from Columbia Street north to the railroad tracks, on Sunday, September 15, which was approved. Grube said there were 102 entries last year. Canned goods and $250 were donated to the local food bank.
Town council members are Tony Starkey, Steve Smith and Bill Boggs.


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Several closures reported

The following local businesses and organizations are closed today due to the weather:
- The Whitley County Community Foundation office is closed.
- The Whitley County BABE Program and Stages store is closed today. They will reopen Thursday, March 7 from noon to 5:30 p.m.
- Morning swim classes are canceled due to the weather, but afternoon classes will be held as scheduled.
- All Whitley County schools are closed today, including: Whitley County Consolidated Schools, Whitko Community Schools, Smith-Green Community Schools and Faith Christian Academy.

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March 05, 2013

Whoa! Winter weather wallops Whitley County


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It's piling up! Residents urged to use caution on local roadways as snow continues to fall

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) The snow really began falling late afternoon Tuesday, covering local roadways and creating whiteout conditions in some areas. Above, an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) snowplow moves along SR 205. City, county and state crews will be working to keep roadways safe, but residents are urged to be mindful of hazardous road conditions and stay off the roads if possible.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

What intially looked as disappointing as most of the winter storms we've had this year has quickly turned a little more interesting this evening.
Snow has been falling heavily for the past hour, following a lighter dusting for several hours before that. According to Whitley County Emergency Management director Cathy Broxon-Ball, the more significant accumulation of snow is expected to fall between 6 and 10 p.m. tonight.
A short while ago, the Whitley County Sheriff's Department issued a bulletin to the citizens of Whitley County, stating that road conditions had become hazardous and slick and motorists are advised to use extreme caution while traveling on local roadways.

Several groups and organizations are already adjusting their schedules for this evening:
- All evening activities for Whitley County Consolidated Schools have been canceled this evening.
- Columbia City Wresting Club's evening activities are canceled.
- All evening and after school events at The Center for Whitley County Youth are canceled tonight, including After-School Central, SERVE, The Line and Revolution.
- Tonight's Whitley County Patriots meeting is canceled.
- Churubusco Elementary School's kindergarten registration has been postpone until April 9
- Huntington University's evening classes are canceled.

Some announcements are already coming in for tomorrow:
- Republic Services/National Serv-All hauling division has announced that all trash collections in Columbia City will be halted for Wednesday, March 6, due to severe and unsafe road conditions. Wednesday trash collections will take place on Thursday. This change will also result in Thursday collections that will be picked up Friday and Friday's will be picked up Saturday.

If you have information you'd like to pass along, please send an email to: jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com


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Snowprints

(Talk of the Town photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano)
A light dusting of snow outlines footprints along the business district in downtown South Whitley mid-day on Tuesday, above. What initially began as a wet, melting snow has now become significant across the county.


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WJHS 91.5 FM to feature monthly 'Coffee with the Mayor' live broadcast from Richard's Restaurant

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Columbia City High School's radio station WJHS 91.5 FM and the Columbia City Mayor's office are partnering on a new project, connecting listeners with local issues.
Last Tuesday, Mayor Ryan Daniel announced the new partnership for a monthly radio talk show at the Columbia City Common Council meeting, saying he felt this was a great opportunity -- enabling the city to share information, seek input from citizens and answer community questions.
The very first "Coffee with the Mayor" will be recorded and air this Thursday, March 7 at 11 a.m. The first topic of discussion will be "Storm Water Utility."
According to WJHS's Michele Creech, the radio station will do a live interview with the mayor and occasionally other city officials on the first Thursday of each month at 11 a.m. The station will set up the live remote at Richard's Restaurant, just of US 30 on Frontage Road in Columbia City.
Creech said the public is encouraged to attend and participate. The broadcast will be aired live on WJHS 91.5 FM.
"This is an hour-long program that will also feature questions from our listeners," Creech said. Citizens are welcome to call the station with questions at 248-8915 and leave a message -- or ask their question in person at Richard's at 11 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month.


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March 04, 2013

Long, Pugh delight crowds in Civic Theatre's 'The Drowsy Chaperone'

(Talk of the Town photos by Elise Ramel)

Two Whitley County residents have landed significant roles in the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre's current production of The Drowsy Chaperone.
Mick Long has the role of "Underling," above, while Michael Pugh has the role of "Feldzieg," at right. The show officially opened Saturday and has received much acclaim.
In the musical, directed by Phillip H. Colglazier, a crowd-fearing musical theater fan plays his favorite cast album and finds that the show literally bursts to life in his living room.  Telling the rambunctious tale of a Broadway starlet trying to find and keep her true love, this musical romp incorporates mistaken identities, dream sequences, an English butler and of course the "Drowsy" (i.e. tipsy) Chaperone!  Honoring the classic musicals of the jazz age, this show speaks to the great unspoken desire in all of our hearts: to be entertained.
The musical was the 2006 Tony award winner for Best Book and Best Score.
The show continues through March 17, 2013, at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, 303 East Main Street in downtown Fort Wayne.
For ticket information and to purchase tickets online, click here.

 


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Sexton lands principal role in Michigan musical

(Talk of the Town photo by Dawn Marie Kaczmar)

From reports

Roy Sexton, formerly of Columbia City and now living in Ann Arbor, has been cast as one of the principals in Legally Blonde the Musical at Farmington Players in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Sexton will portray Callahan, pompous and scheming head of the law firm that hires Elle Woods as a summer intern. The 2007 Tony-nominated musical is based on the 2001 Reese Witherspoon film from MGM. Callahan was played by Victor Garber in the movie. Farmington Players' production opens April 26 and runs through May 18. Tickets can be purchased at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling 248-553-2955.
Sexton most recently had the lead role Georg Nowack in last summer's production of She Loves Me with Ann Arbor's The Penny Seats, a theatre company he co-founded. He has also appeared in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), What Corbin Knew, Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game, Company, Bells are Ringing, Rags, Side by Side by Sondheim, The Taming of the Shrew, Fiddler on the Roof, The Fantasticks, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Ah, Wilderness!, God's Country, The American Clock, As You Like It, Tartuffe, The Battle of Shallowford, Trout, and The Merchant of Venice.
He is also an active cabaret performer, and he holds a masters in theatre from Ohio State. In 2007, Sexton, a graduate of Wabash College, received his MBA from the University of Michigan. He is vice president of marketing and planning for Trott & Trott, PC, a real estate law firm in Metro Detroit.


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City's sidewalk enhancement project continues for 2013

From reports

Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel announced today that the Columbia City Sidewalk Enhancement Partnership Program for 2013 is now available.
In this program, the city will participate in a 50/50 match on public sidewalks.  Private sidewalks, driveway approaches and/or driveways are still 100% the property owner’s responsibility. 
To participate in this program, your property must be tax-assessed.  The entire sidewalk portion from property line to property line will be replaced.  The city will not consider portions of sidewalks. 
A payment schedule may be established with the Clerk Treasurer’s office in City Hall; however, payment for the project must be made in full no later than December 6, 2013.
The deadline for applications to be received for consideration is April 15, 2013. 
Applications are available at the Mayor’s Office in City Hall during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the City’s website www.columbiacity.net/news.htm 
If you need an application but cannot get to the Mayor’s Office during these hours, call 248-5111 and leave a message where an application can be sent to you.


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Vote of confidence: Caucus re-elects GOP leaders for another term

(Talk of the Town photo by Bob Allman/Churubusco News)
Above, from left, Paul Zilz, Matt Boyd, Laurell Hodges and Dr. Neil Hanni will represent the Whitley County Republican party for the next four years. All four were re-elected by party leadership Saturday morning during the party's reorganization meeting, an event that takes place every four years.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

Whitley County GOP leadership met Saturday to measure the mood of party faithful and to set the future direction of their organization.
As part of the official party reorganization, a planned event every four years, precinct leaders gathered at the Eagles Nest Event Center following the regularly scheduled Saturday morning breakfast event to elect the Republican party's executive body.
When votes were tallied, all four members of the GOP's senior county leadership were given a vote of confidence to continue in their roles. Party chairman Matt Boyd of Columbia City will continue in the role he's held since former county chairman Jim Banks left the position last year. Laurell Hodges of South Whitley continues as vice chair. Dr. Neil Hanni of Churubusco was re-elected treasurer and Paul Zilz of Tri Lakes was re-elected secretary. There were no challengers to any of the positions, according to Boyd, and all four will continue terms of four years.


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McCullough, Schaefer and Lowen recognized for excellence at weekend competition

(Talk of the Town photo provided)
It was an especially successful weekend for the Columbia City High School show choir. Above, three young women were recognized for excellence following the competition. From left, Anna McCullough won Dynamic Performer for City Heat, Hannah Schaefer won grand champion in the solo competition and Naomi Lowen won Dynamic Performer for City Lights. Additionally, City Lights and City Heat both placed third runner up in their respective competitions.


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Support 4-H by attending upcoming 'Fun Night' or by making donation to the silent auction

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

The Whitley County 4-H Council will again be holding their Silent Auction from 4-7:45 p.m. during the annual, upcoming Whitley County 4-H Fun Night on Friday, March 15, 2013.
4-H Council members are currently seeking donations of new items, filled gift baskets, purchase vouchers or even cash donations of any amount.
"These items will be accepted through the afternoon of the event," said 4-H volunteer Annette Lamle, who is helping to coordinate the silent auction again this year. "This is a great opportunity for our community to help provide support for various 4-H trips, 4-H scholarships and also projects that need aid on the fairgrounds, itself," Lamle said.
The silent auction will be held in conjunction with the all-you-can-eat fish and tenderloin supper served from 4-7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, at the Whitley County 4-H Center building.
Lamle added that a children's carnival, made of booths hosted by the various 4-H clubs, will begin at 4:30 p.m.
For more information or to make a donation for the auction, contact Matt Gibson at 609-0967, April Waugh or Annette Lamle at mamalamle@yahoo.com to make arrangements.


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Baseball registration deadline extended to March 8, Softball registration accepted through March 16

 By Jennifer Zartman Romano

After a successful week and weekend of baseball and softball registration, the deadline to sign up for baseball has been extended until this Friday, March 8, 2013, at 4:30 p.m.
According to city parks director Mark Green, a very large crowd turned out Friday and Saturday at the park to register for summer sports.
Registrations for baseball will be accepted at the current rate Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Morsches Park office. After Friday, the fee will increase by $25 per child.
Softball registration continues through Saturday, March 16, when players may be registered from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. in the pavilion.
The baseball parents meeting is set for March 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Carver Center at Indian Springs Middle School, a meeting where rules and code of conduct will be discussed.
To print off registration forms or for more information, visit www.columbiacityparks.org


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March 03, 2013

Farewell, CC Deli: Hostetlers choose new path for the future, seek interested buyer for downtown business

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) The CC Deli, a mainstay for the lunch crowd in downtown Columbia City, has announced it will not re-open. A buyer for the business and the circa 1873 building are being sought.

By Jennifer Zartman Romano

For several weeks, a hot topic among area residents has been “ When will the CC Deli reopen?”
 At last there is word...but not a happy one.
This week, owners Steve and Sharon Hostetler have made the difficult decision to shutter the daytime eatery located in the historical Central Block building, just north of the main entrance to the Whitley County Courthouse.  For a little over five years, it has been the place to grab a healthy lunch, warm up with one of Hostetler's signature soups in the winter months or take home a container of their famous chicken salad in the summer. Each fall brought the popular pumpkin cookies many eagerly looked forward to.
We genuinely cared for our customers and they became friends to us," Hostetler said, expressing a true sense of sadness at the closure and acknowledging that he'll miss the people who stopped in to visit day after day and friendships that grew over the years.
Over the years, the Hostetlers enjoyed some great experiences, providing a point of hospitality for local political parties and providing catering for a wide range of community functions. State senators, governors and even a former United States president enjoyed meals from the CC Deli over the years -- all experiences the Hostetlers will remember fondly. 
The support given to the community by donations to food pantries and the Salvation Army went unpublicized and therefore unnoticed, as Steve and Sharon wanted.  They also smile when they remember the breakfast with Santa events and all the children that had the opportunity to spend quality time with the festive one.
"We enjoyed our business...it was uniquely ours," they said.
Steve and Sharon spent over a decade planning on what type of business they wanted to open.  They developed a business plan, they gathered and tried recipes, they even planned the menu and the names of the sandwiches. 
"We considered Columbia City as the only city we wanted to start a business," Steve Hostetler said. The Hostetlers bought and remodeled the east half of the Central Block building, making space for the CC Deli and for neighboring business, The Watering Can Florist on the Square.  They planned long and hard, but they did not plan on the worst economy occurring since the Great Depression.
Operating the business at one of the worst economies in the past 80 years made the start of a business difficult for the Hostetlers and despite their best efforts, the challenge was insurmountable.
"We have had struggles with operating a small business and the losses have forced us to consider other avenues for recovery," Hostetler said. "We know that running the Deli for the few years we have remaining and then going to a fixed income will not work."  Having retired from a long career in engineering and operations, Steve plans to return to the workforce and has accepted a position at a regional company.
While the CC Deli dream has ended for the Hostetlers, they are hopeful that someone might want to continue this establishment as new owners.
 "We are willing to sell the business to anyone wanting to continue CC Deli," Hostetler said, adding that they'd be willing to sell the CC Deli business, including recipes, business plan and bakery training.  They would be willing to train a new owner and provide some insight to make sure the new owner starts out profitable.
Additionally, they'd consider the sale of the building with or without the business.  The building has two commercial areas on the ground floor and one on the second situated by two apartments -- probably the nicest apartments in downtown Columbia City.
And for the many, many citizens of Whitley County who've been yearning for the business to reopen after the long winter hiatus, a new owner would have an instant customer base.  Most of us will be happy to again enjoy a Columbia special, a tomato tortellini soup or a White Chili on Wednesdays - or that coveted soda with raspberry syrup.

To inquire about the sale of the business, send an email to jennifer@talkofthetownwc.com

 


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March 02, 2013

Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers fund hosting fundraising dinner tonight at Grace Lutheran Church

From reports

The Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Fund will host a fundraising meal this evening, Saturday, March 2.
A meal including chili or chicken noodle soup, in addition to salad, dessert and a drink, will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. tonight at Grace Lutheran Church, 204 North Main Street, in Columbia City.
A free will donation will be accepted and added to the Donovan Kessler Little Swimmers Fund at the Whitley County Community Foundation. The fund helps underwrite the cost of swimming lessons for children in need, in hopes that through water safety education, families might be spared the tragedy of a young life lost to drowning.


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NHES gears up for 'March Madness' on March 23

Article provided

Come enjoy a fabulous and fun family evening at Northern Heights Elementary School Carnival, the school's biggest event of the year!
March Madness, a tradition at the school for many, many years, is slated for Saturday, March 23, from 5 to 8 p.m. and presented by the Northern Heights PIE.
Enjoy games, concessions served by NHES fifth grade, an amazing raffle, the very popular teacher basket silent auction and a cake walk/baked goods auction.
Each year the raffle gets better, and this year is no exception. In addition to the “BIG” prizes of Disney tickets, an iPad, and iPod Touch, there will be a variety of great items to win. Teachers will be working with their classrooms to assemble themed baskets offered in a silent auction. Funds raised from this event go right back to supporting that teacher’s classroom.
Delicious food in the form of nachos, pizza, hot dogs, snow cones and more will be served by the fifth grade class. Monies raised from the concession support a variety of school items, such as the 4/5 computer lab.
And for all the creative bakers out there, be sure to decorate a cake or prepare a tasty baked treat for the cake walk and baked foods auction.
The community is invited to attend.


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